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Lying: A Way Of Life In The Medical Profession

In his last post, DrRich analyzed whether the young Wisconsin doctors who stood out on street corners proudly offering fake “sick excuses” to protesting teachers were engaging in an act of civil disobedience. DrRich respectfully kept an open mind on this question, but after careful deliberation concluded that it is very unlikely that their actions constituted classic civil disobedience as espoused by Thoreau or Gandhi.

Instead, these doctors were, in a professional capacity, lying. They did not lie in any truly malicious way, however. They lied because they have been trained to believe in a higher cause than mere professional ethics, namely, the cause of social justice. They lied in full confidence that telling lies to advance such a noble cause is a natural duty of the medical profession. They never expected to be criticized for it (except perhaps by Rush Limbaugh and sundry teabaggers and the like), and they almost certainly will be stunned into indignant incoherence if they end up actually receiving the full punishments their actions allow.

But what really interests DrRich is the near-perfect silence we have seen from the mainstream news media regarding this sad episode. While it’s easy to find stories about the phony sick excuses all over Fox News and conservative websites, major outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CBS and NBC — sources one might expect to express at least some sympathy for these doctors and their work to advance a just cause – have reported next to nothing about it. When a left-leaning mainstream outlet does report on the episode (for instance, this article appearing in the Atlantic), rather than expressing any support for the Wisconsin doctors, they express at least mild dismay. It seems plain to DrRich that the mainstream media wish the whole thing hadn’t happened, and that perhaps their silence might help it go away as soon as possible.

So here we’ve got a small cadre of youthful and idealistic physicians, behaving in a manner entirely consistent with what they’ve just learned during their medical training, and not only are they facing formal investigations and potential punishment, but also the very people and organizations whom they were surely counting on for support have retreated into an embarrassed silence, or worse, criticism. What gives? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*

The AMA’s Policy On Professionalism In The Use Of Social Media

A new policy on professionalism in the use of social media was [recently] adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA Office of Media Relations was kind enough to share a copy of the policy:

The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily. Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication. Social networks, blogs, and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship. Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

(a)  Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

(b)  When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Professional Boundaries: Is It Okay For A Friend To Treat A Friend?

I just finished reading Dr. Gary Small’s book, The Naked Lady Who Stood On Her Head.

In the final chapter of the book, Dr. Small talks about his mentor, friend, and father figure who’s mentioned throughout the book. The mentor approaches him on the golf course, where they meet to talk, and says he needs psychotherapy and Small is the man to do it. The author is surprised, hesitant, and a bit uncomfortable with the demand (it comes as more than a request.) His wife likens it to the need for a plumber or a dentist, and Dr. Small takes on the task. The mentor calls all the shots: Where the meetings will be, what pastry they will eat, the form of his payment. The author initially misses the diagnosis and uses this as an example of how one can be blinded.

So is it okay for a friend to treat a friend? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

What Doctors And Patients Can Learn From Apple And Steve Jobs

First, I am a big admirer of Apple CEO Steve Jobs for his thoughtful 2005 Stanford commencement speech, his clarity of vision, and his superb skills as a leader. Fortune magazine named him CEO of the decade after turning around the company he founded from near bankruptcy in the late 1990s to becoming the most valued company today. Though I have great respect for him, I haven’t bought an Apple product, ever, until this year.

So I watched with great interest his press conference regarding Antennagate which has consumed technology news with regards to the design of the new iPhone 4 and its new antenna design. Apparently this makes the smartphone vulnerable to dropping phone calls when held a certain way, known as the death grip. If one simply avoided holding the phone that one explicit way, the phone otherwise worked fine. As a result, 22 days after the latest iPhone was available to the public, Jobs and Apple were instead addressing an issue which dwarfed their latest product launch.

Doctors and patients can learn plenty by watching Jobs’ approach to the problem, because the situation he and his team were tackling is similar to what a doctor addresses daily in the office. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

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