Friday, September 12, 2008

Doctors Laughing at Patients?

Sure, it happens. And it's not a positive. It speaks to a lack of professionalism in medicine. However, I find it sad that CNN once again resorts to alarmist headlines to draw in readers rather than putting a less sensationalist title and seriously exploring the issue and its causes. The author of "Ever wonder if your doctor is laughing at you?" states:

You're sick, in the hospital, or maybe even undergoing surgery. The last thing you want to contemplate is the thought that your doctor might be making fun of your toe rings while you're anesthetized.

But does it happen? Yes. According to a survey of doctors starting a residency in internal medicine, 17 percent had -- along with their colleagues--made fun of a patient, sometimes when the patient was under.

Egad. Is nothing sacred? The good news, though, is that 94% of the 110 medical interns who took the anonymous survey realized that such behavior was inappropriate, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That means that only seven doctors in the survey thought that type of behavior was A-OK.

I guess it's not that surprising, given the behavior of our on-air favorites. From "Grey's Anatomy" to "House," the overwhelming warts-and-all portrait seems to be this: Doctors are human. They fall in love, they get angry, and they like a good chuckle -- sometimes at the patient's expense.

As I've noted previously, such pieces tend to drive a wedge between doctors and patients. CNN is especially guilty of this practice. Given the coverage of the election this season, I seriously wonder if reporters should be required to get licenses before publishing pieces. I don't mean to restrict anyone's freedom of speech, but I think the media often does a poor job on reporting on issues of great importance to the public. If doctors and lawyers have to have licenses to practice because of the harm that can occur if they do not, why not the media as well? With a licensed media, people would have some way to judge if a reporter was qualified or not. You could still have blogs and alternate sources, but such a system would hopefully increase one's trust in the pieces we read everyday.

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