This morning I read that Dr. Jack Cassell, a urologist practicing in Florida, placed a sign in his office window telling people who had voted for Obama to seek care "elsewhere". He was shrewd enough to tell the Orlando Sentinel that he's not turning anyone away. "That would be unethical," he was reported to say, "but if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it." He also provided patients in his office a timeline of how the health care bill will progress over the next few years. Above the stack of timelines he placed a sign that read, "This is what the morons in Washington have done to your health. Take one, read it and vote out anyone who voted for it."
The relationship between a doctor and patient is a sacred matter of trust and acceptance. Regardless of the political views we may hold, we doctors are forbidden by our code of ethics to allow those opinions to interfere with how we practice medicine. We must always remember that we do not own the knowledge we use to treat our patients. The knowledge that forms the foundation and body of the practice of Medicine has been collected and passed down over centuries. It is the cumulative work of millions of physicians, chemists, biologists, pharmacologists, scientists, and researchers. It is astonishing arrogance for a doctor to even suggest that he might pick and choose who to help with this most noble legacy of the human mind and heart.
We do not have the right to dispense that knowledge to only those we favor, or to withhold it from those for whom we have a distaste. We must not merely condescend to treat those with whom we disagree. To provide medical care is not a favor, it is an honor and a duty. As a psychiatrist, I have treated people who spat on me, alcoholics who drank away their family's grocery money, psychotics who rub their feces on the walls, and sociopaths who stole pain medication from elderly sufferers of cancer . If I can treat such people without hesitation, and with the same care and concern that I would use treat my own wife and children, then surely, Dr. Cassell, you could find it in your heart to provide care for those who have only conspired with their vote to take a few dollars out of your pocket. Dr. Cassell, you are a disgrace to our honored profession. You should indeed send your patients elsewhere, to a doctor that cares. Meanwhile, you should look for other work.
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