The death of Michael Jackson was both unnecessary and deeply troubling. The thought of a well-trained cardiologist divorcing himself from the realm of sanity and performing general anesthesia in someone's bedroom defies words. This rogue physician's lack of integrity cost a man his life, his family a loved one and the world a prodigy.
Unfortunately these actions underscore a potentially dangerous and far too common trend occurring in doctor's offices throughout America: patient-mandated care.
I am all for patient education and the benefits of the internet but there is an appropriate manner in which to utilize this information. Direct marketing of drugs, procedures and surgical implants to patients has significantly altered the doctor-patient relationship and the dynamics of the interaction.
It is virtually impossible to watch the evening news without being bombarded with the latest celebrity endorsed osteoporosis drug. Watching the TV commercials during a major sporting event is far better than an actual office visit to diagnose and treat one's erectile dysfunction. And if the erection lasts more than 4 hours, consider yourself blessed!
A person walking into a doctor's office and demanding various treatments and/or medications often before the doctor has completed their greeting is a common example of what I call patient mandated care. "Hello Mr. Smith, I'm Dr. Benjamin. I understand...yeah nice to meet you doc. I'm here for some pain medication". No history and physical examination, no review of prior treatment or medications, just give me what I want.
Information is empowering and useful. A patient demanding specific care is potentially dangerous and often a tremendous waste of resources. Truly, a version of this scenario plays out everyday in virtually every doctor's office in America.
The correct answer is for the physician to merely say no; many do, which invariably sparks a confrontation. It only takes one doctor to acquiesce and take the easy road and write that prescription, order that unnecessary test or perform that procedure.
Unfortunately, as in the case of Michael Jackson, the world has painfully learned how horribly wrong the perverted doctor patient relationship can go. The moral to this story is to be very careful of what you demand and beg for in a doctor's office, because you may be just one questionable physician away from serious heartache and pain.
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