Monday, February 12, 2007

Free Speech 

We will see more of this as time passes. How many doctors are prepared for people to go online and to say the doctors have done harm? In this case, the surgeon appears to have been a prominent individual. Suddenly, he finds himself called incompetent. That has to have direct consequences for his practice.

Doctors have been under assault for years, but it appears some might be in need of PR services. I'm not sure how one would go about defending a physician in the media, but it is worth thinking about. For one, it seems to me doctors need to be more personable. It is known that injured patients want most from a doctor an expression of regret and apology for failing. But, that is exactly what a lawyer doesn't want a doctor to do. Admitting failure is admitting the contentions of a lawsuit. There also is an unfortunate arrogance about many doctors who are trained to get things right and don't like to admit they have been wrong. How many of us are comfortable going to a physician who tries on a best efforts basis but with no guarantees? We go because we need a biological correction: We expect to get it. That's what the doctor is there for. Yet, there is a lack of certitude in medicine as in PR. Doctors often don't know what is wrong even after batteries of tests. Patients can be unforgiving. When they are, incidents like the above will happen more often.

Here in Argentina you sign up a legal form before going on surgery or something similar, where you accept all risks. I suppose the only PR which are implemented in medicine is the one practised by clinics, and I don't know to what extent. Imagine a blog where doctors accept comments by patients...

Using PR in medicine would be a big progress of our field. But lawyers wouldn't agree with the idea...

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