I’ve been asked several ‘ethical dilemmas’ in the past few weeks. I’m putting them up on Shrink Rap, but please don’t get hung up on the details. These aren’t my patients, but the details of the stories are being distorted to disguise those involved. The question, in both cases, boils down to: Should the mental health professional report the patient to his professional board?
In the first case, a psychiatrist is treating a nurse who is behaving badly. The nurse is stealing controlled substances from the hospital and giving them to friends who ‘need’ them. She doesn’t intend to stop, and her contact with the psychiatrist was only for an appointment or two before she ended treatment. Should the psychiatrist contact the state’s nursing board? Is he even allowed to?
In the second case, Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*
An online friend, colleague, and outspoken patient advocate, Trisha Torrey, has an ongoing e-vote about whether people prefer to be called a “patient,” a “consumer,” a “customer,” or some other noun to describe a person who receives healthcare.
My vote is: PATIENT. Here’s why:
Providing medical care is or should be unlike other commercial transactions. The doctor, or other person who gives medical treatment, has a special professional and moral obligation to help the person who’s receiving his or her treatment. This responsibility — to heal, honestly and to the best of one’s ability — overrides any other commitments, or conflicts, between the two. The term “patient” constantly reminds the doctor of the specialness of the relationship. If a person with illness or medical need became a consumer like any other, the relationship — and the doctor’s obligation — would be lessened.
Some might argue that the term “patient” somehow demeans the healthcare receiver. But I don’t agree: From the practicing physician’s perspective, it’s a privilege to have someone trust you with their health, especially if they’re seriously ill. In this context, the term “patient” can reflect a physician’s respect for the person’s integrity, humanity and needs.
*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*