Friday, June 22, 2007

Uh-Oh, A Rant

I just read this article and I am appalled. I had heard of this happening, but frequently forgot to research further. I am just disgusted.

For those of you who don't feel like clicking my link, I'll give you the gist. The article discusses how people in the medical field will deny a patient certain medical care based on personal belief systems, and how there are groups for and against legislation that allows them to do this. We've heard about the pharmacists who won't fill prescriptions for the morning after pill or contraceptive, but we rarely hear about doctors refusing to prescribe them in the first place, and to add insult to injury, refusing to refer patients to someone who will.

You all should already know that I'm not very fond of doctors, especially the ones who refuse to treat me. I'm going to try to not sound too jumbled or repetitive here.

If I trusted doctors (in general), or perhaps I should say, when I find a physician I can trust, I will look to that person as an assistant in my health care. Assistant. Not in control of, not even with equal responsibility to myself. My personal health care assistant. How many of you out there have, or know someone who is, or are familiar with the position of a personal assistant? They mostly do things for you that you otherwise don't have the time to do, right? Keep track of appointments, lend their personal skills in things like typing or fielding phone calls. My doctor is like one of those people as it relates to my health care. I don't have the time or money to go through the vast amount of schooling myself, so I pay someone else to have that knowledge for me. I will listen to their expertise, after all, I pay them for it. I pay them so much, in fact, that I have to pay someone else to pay them for me because I can't do so out of pocket. My personal health care assistant is an employee of mine, someone hired by me to help me with those parts of my personal health that are not within my field of knowledge.

I do not, nor will I ever, go to a doctor for a lesson in morals or to have their religious views thrust upon me. And I don't sympathize for one minute the argument that the poor doctors should not be forced to provide care that they don't agree with. Wiccans, who's principal creed is also to do no harm, can and do still serve in the military (where, in case you're not on Planet Earth and don't know, an awful lot of harm is happening). Maybe they are compromising their beliefs, but I think it's justifiable for a greater cause. If you Wiccan's don't want your creed compromised, don't join the military. Consequently, if you anyone don't want to provide health care that you don't agree with but is otherwise legally acceptable, don't become a doctor.

The medical profession, to me, is one of those service positions (at least, I feel it should be). Service positions like teachers, police officers, fire fighters, politicians (don't get me started here!), and military. Positions that are, by their very nature, in service to other people. Really, most of us are in a job like that. I am at OBC. I think there's a problem when people get so caught up in their personal feelings that they stop doing their jobs.

I'm about ready to step down off my soap box, here. I'm going to part with my own little piece of advice. Take it as you will, because you know I still don't have a regular physician (one of the things that tends to happen when people are denied the care they seek). If you're in the market for a new doctor, or even are not sure of your current one, treat that first visit as a job interview. You interview the physician. You ask them questions that relate to how they will respond with your health needs. If you are not satisfied with their answers, take your insurance's money somewhere else. You are your own best advocate for your health. And if you are mistreated, or not treated, by the very people you trust to help keep you well, be vocal about it. All those people trying to make laws to protect the poor religious physicians need to hear from you.

That is all.


Willow Goldentree said...

Sing it Sister!!! Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Fyrecreek--I agree with you 100%. I read that article yesterday, and it disgusts me. Unfortunately, I have colleagues who are like that (all men, by the way). One guy asked me to prescribe birth control for an unmarried woman on whom he just did a pap smear. I went and spoke with her, and she was so embarrassed that this man, who just performed an intimate exam on her, would not give her birth control b/c she was not married! At least he had the decency to refer her to me (he knew I was one of those hairy-legged feminists, I guess), but it was very uncomfortable for her.

I asked him if he would have prescribed Viagra to the patient I had seen the day before--a widowed 60-ish year old who just got himself a new girlfriend. Obviously, they were not married, and obviously, he was embarking on a sexual relationship. My colleague didn't know what to say. I also wondered if he would prescribe viagra to homosexual men (as I have done)--but we were in the army at the time, so I didn't bring it up.

It is NOT my job to judge. It is my job to help you (the generic "you", as in "patient") keep healthy, in whatever way we decide works for you, after reviewing all the possibilities. If I'm uncomfortable with the plan, or you are, I am more than happy to refer you to someone who can help you. And I WILL tell someone everything that's available (that I'm aware of), even if I don't agree with such treatments--b/c in the end, it's the patient who has to live with it.

I am SO aware of the power differential when I walk into the room with my white lab coat and the patient is there up on an exam table. It is NOT fair to preach to someone in that situation, when they are so vulnerable. And if a doctor feels he/she must refer a patient for ethical reasons, I don't think they have to make the patient feel awkward by saying, "It's against my religion". Just tell them you will refer them to someone with more expertise or experience.

Thanks for bringing up that article! Laurel