Bioethics Discussion Blog: How Much Would You Want to Know?

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Friday, July 16, 2004

How Much Would You Want to Know?

Now as a followup from the last posting on physician conflict of interest, I would like my visitors to answer the following questions and if they care, post a comment about them.

If you were a patient would you want to be informed by your doctor-
a. that the reason she had your appointment rescheduled for 3 weeks later was because at the time of the original appointment she was going to the 6th grade graduation of her child.
b. that the reason she had your appointment rescheduled for 3 weeks later was because she herself was going on a vacation trip with her husband.
c. that the reason she had your appointment rescheduled for 3 weeks later was because she herself was having a breast biopsy.
d. that he owned a financial share of the X-ray laboratory to which he was sending you for a mammogram.
e. that he got paid $1000 for every patient he was able to sign up for a research study on a drug that might be useful for your disease.
f. as a pregnant patient at the first visit with the obstetrician what is his religious beliefs and whether he follows religious directives regarding abortions.
g. that the reason your doctor never questioned you about your smoking was because he himself smokes.

Do you think that you are responsible to know and understand the basis for all actions of your physician dealing with you as his/her patient? If not all, by what criteria would you decide what information you want to know? ..Maurice.

2 Comments:

At Tuesday, January 17, 2006 7:47:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Again, I hope you don't mind my commenting on older posts ...

This is one subject I would find difficult to pass by.

If a physician wants to reveal personal reasons for his actions, then I'm more than willing to listen, as I would be if anyone else I knew wanted to reveal some personal tidbit.

However, I don't feel that I need to know why an appointment was rescheduled - unless the physician is willing to share information on that part of his life with me. If my appointment was urgent, however, then I would hope that he would have made other arrangements for me, if he realized the nature of my problem.

I once had a physician tell me: "I'm sorry I was leaving on my vacation and didn't get to stay until you woke up (from surgery) so that I could you myself that ... yadda yadda ... " ... frankly, I'd rather not have known that ... since I'm sure that no one is sorry that they're leaving on vacation. I was happy for him that he'd had a vacation, but the apology came off as a bit a bit insincere.

As far as a physician's financial holdings go ... I'm really not that interested. I would hope that I would have had enough discernment to choose a physician whom I can trust to not sell me down the river for a few bucks.

Where medical and moral stands are concerned, then yes, I would like to know. I'm not seeing a physician for his personal life, I'm seeing him as a physician - for his knowledge of medicine. I'm placing my own life in his hands. I want to know that I can trust him to take care of me, and that he's not going to pull the rug out from beneath me when I'm too sick to defend myself.

As far as smoking - or being overweight - or any one of the myriad things he could be experiencing in his own life, then no ... it doesn't matter to me as a patient. He's human. I don't expect a 300 pound fellow to lecture me about my weight ... but that wouldn't mean that I'm not aware that I needed to lose excess weight myself. I wouldn't need him to tell me to slim up.

I think a little common sense goes a long way in this area. If the knowledge affects me directly, then yes, I want to know ... if it's simply part of the physician's personal life, and affects the way he runs his office (time off for family affairs, illness, whatever) then it's no more my business than if my lawyer, my banker, or my hair dresser does it.

Of your 7 examples, the only one I would like to know about would be f ... but not about his religious beliefs, which are none of my business unless he wants to share them; it would rather be to know that he would respect my religious beliefs, and not insist or pressure me to do something which I would find morally objectionable.

.

 
At Tuesday, January 17, 2006 10:16:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Thanks Moof for your view of these examples. You seem to be most concerned in the physician as his or her professional role rather than personal issues. Perhaps other visitors here can contribute their own views. ..Maurice.

 

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