Thursday, June 10, 2010

Honesty in Medicine;Ethics of Lying by Medical Personnel

This article is gold. It was sent to me by one of my readers and it deals with what I am talking about on this blog. As you know, I take exception not only to the drug Versed which caused me harm on a chemical level, but its use on me also breached the absolute trust I had in medical professionals. I feel that it was unethical and inexcusable treatment on the part of my providers.

Here is an excerpt from the article which I have linked in its entirety in this this post. I have added italics and bold face.

Not telling the truth in the doctor-patient relationship requires special attention because patients today, more than ever, experience serious harm if they are lied to. Not only is patient autonomy undermined but patients who are not told the truth about an intervention experience a loss of that all important trust which is required for healing. Honesty matters to patients. They need it because they are ill, vulnerable, and burdened with pressing questions which require truthful answers.
Honesty also matters to the doctor and other medical professionals. The loss of reputation for honesty in medical practice means the end of medicine as a profession. Important as it is for patients and doctors, however, honesty has been neither a major concern in medical ethics nor an important value for doctors. It may be an exaggeration to say that honesty is neither taught in medical school nor valued in medical culture, but it is not too much of an exaggeration.

I have been complaining about this for years now, ever since I was blind-sided and assaulted by medical staff, including my surgeon. Not just one person, everybody involved in my care was devious and untruthful. They concealed the true nature of the anesthesia drug Versed in order to facilitate a wholesale and reckless disregard for my wishes and patient rights laws. The nasty side effects from the surgery itself were likewise carefully concealed from me. The incident was a shocking and blatant violation of trust I had in them, and the deep personal regard with which I viewed them and their profession. These medical people earned my disrespect.

Here is a link to the entire article; Honesty in Medicine
Here are a couple more germane statements by the esteemed Dr. James F. Drane, also from this article;

If so, the loss to medicine is tragic because there is no comparison between the consequences of lying in the doctor-patient relationship and the lying that goes on elsewhere. Besides harming a patient's autonomy, patients themselves are harmed, and so are the doctors, the medical profession, and the whole society which depends on humane and trustworthy medicine.
Inattention to truth or violations of honesty by medical personnel is serious business. There is a lot at stake as well for nurses, researchers and other health professionals. The truth issue is worth thinking about by all health-care professionals.
Now, more than ever, patients have to be able to trust their doctors and to be able to rely on the truth of what they are told. Since truthfulness and veracity are such critical medical virtues, doctors have to work to develop the virtue of truthfulness. This is not an easy task.
To become a truthful person we have to struggle first to know the truth. Then we have to struggle with personal prejudices which can distort any information we gather. We have to try to be objective. We have to work to correct a corrupting tendency to confuse one side of a story or one perspective of an event with the whole truth. And, finally, we have to recognize that self-aggrandizement corrupts the capacity to know the truth and to communicate anything except pathological, narcissistic interests. Truth for an egoist is reduced to what promotes his ego. The egoist cannot see the truth and therefore cannot tell it. The only thing which can be communicated is his or her own aggrandized self.
Knowing the truth and telling the truth is difficult enough without shadowing weak human capacities for virtues with narcissistic pathological shades. If we are self-deceived we cannot hope to avoid deception in what we disclose. Not to address pathological character distortions is to make lies inevitable. The classical medical ethical codes were preoccupied with a good physician's personal character traits--rightfully so.

This article gives me hope for the medical community. I hope that those medical types that I am offending take the time to read this ENTIRE article with an open mind.

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