Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"Diagnose me properly and I'll sue your ass!"

I am overweight. I know that. I know that it can negatively impact my health. I am a grownup. When I visit professionals, be they car mechanics, lawyers, tarot card readers, or physicians, I expect the unvarnished truth as best as they can observe and relate it. That's what I pay them for.

Apparently, not all grownups desire candor from their health care professional. They prefer the truth to be skirted. Furthermore, if a candid comment should slip from said physician's mouth such as:

"I told a fat woman she was obese," Bennett says. "I tried to get her attention. I told her, 'You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.' "

it is deemed worthy, in at least in this one case, of a lawsuit. Which is fine, because we have a right to be silly and I lean to supporting the right to file a "frivolous lawsuit" because it can generally be kicked in a nanosecond.

The woman in question had several options other than the lawsuit. She could have:
(a) Told her doctor that he was a dumbass, exercising her inner child without detriment to anyone since the doctor would have blown off the comment.
(b) Contested the diagnosis or simply have walked out, never to return again, exercising her inner adult which maintains the right to disagree without detriment to others.

But the lawsuit is NOT the insane part. The insane part is the idiotic state board which has disciplinary authority over Dr. Bennett, which is planning to, well, discipline him. So, now the patient is not only possibly endangering her own health, she's quite possibly on the road, again with the State Board's complicity, to endangering other people's health.

This is scary. We are muzzling the truth because the truth hurts, is emotionally painful to deal with.

"Physicians have to be professional with patients and remember everyone is an individual. You should not be inflammatory or degrading to anyone," said board member Kevin Costin.

I'm surprised that Mr. Costin didn't go on to list other potential transgressions:

"Hey, if that cancer's left untreated, you're probably not gonna see Christmas."
"If you persist in not eating any vitamin C, you're gonna get scurvy."
"Smoking three packs a day, and swilling half a quart a vodka might increase your baby's chances of suffering some sort of birth defect."

Apparently, the Hippocratic Oath's first line has now been changed, "In any event, do not offend."

We are a nation of spoiled children in so many respects.

Should Dr. Bennett ever have occasion to see Mr. Costin bleeding from the femoral artery, I hope he has the decency to not embarass him in front of morbid onlookers by applying a tourniquet. He should just walk on by, mentioning that the blood looks quite healthy and full of hemoglobin.