medical ethics

Care Factor

I would like to take this opportunity to address some ideas I’ve found floating around about doctors that are not only incorrect but also downright offensive.

Myth 1: Doctors are all being paid by Big Pharma to cover up the truth about drugs/vaccines.

Fact: I’m still waiting on my incentive payment… and I haven’t met a group more sceptical and hard to convince about new medications than doctors- well, aside from conspiracy theorists and people who are anti-conventional medicine. As any drug rep could tell you, doctors ask the hard questions, because, shock-gasp, we actually CARE about our patients. That’s if we actually will speak to a rep. Many doctors refuse to (or are just really obstructive and rude to them as discouragement- not saying this is the right approach!).

Myth 2: Doctors don’t want people to get well because we’d be out of a job, so we have a vested interest in keeping everyone sick.

Fact: Most doctors genuinely care about their patients!! If everyone suddenly recovered from their health issues and never needed a doctor again, we’d be delirious with joy. We’d retire early and spend our days golfing, or make an exciting career change, or finally take up sudoku.
I would like to take this opportunity to address some ideas I’ve found floating around about doctors that are not only incorrect but also downright offensive.

Myth 3: Doctors don’t want to use ‘natural’ remedies because we can’t make money out of them and/or they work too well and we want our patients to stay sick (see above).

Fact: We don’t make any money from the treatments we use. If we write you a script and you go and buy a medication- we don’t get a cent from that sale. You know who DO make money on the remedies they concoct without any quality assurance and regulation and sell directly to you to fix a condition that they’ve just ‘diagnosed’ you with- naturopaths. If your doctor advises you to not use a ‘natural’ remedy it’s either because we think you’re wasting your money or that it could actually be doing you harm (directly, or by delaying the appropriate treatment). If there’s a ‘natural’ remedy that is safe and effective- we’ll tell you to go ahead and take it!

Myth 4: Doctors don’t know anything about nutrition or healthy lifestyle in general.

Fact: That’s false and really, quite insulting. We do know quite a bit. We are generally a humble bunch though, who don’t claim to know it all and we won’t make up our own ‘facts’ to fill the gaps. If we are saying something with limited evidence, we will tell you, instead of just coating it in random scientific sounding terms to impress you. What’s more, we acknowledge the limits of our knowledge and refer you to someone with specialised knowledge when needed, eg. a dietitian. We care about you getting the best care possible.

Myth 5: Doctors’ knowledge is limited because the whole of medical education has been infiltrated by Big Pharma.

Fact: Most of medical education is about clinical sciences and the art (and ETHICS, hello) of good patient care. Any drugs we learned about in med school went by their generic names. Along with the actions of drugs we learn all about their side effects and risks. Again, I’ve never met a tougher audience then doctors at a so called ‘drug dinner’. We really put the reps through their paces. We tear through their data and expose any shoddy results. We decry unacceptable side effects and query the actual benefit of any new treatments. These are not the actions of a group that has been ‘brainwashed’ or duped by evil corporations. Repeat: Doctors care about their patients!!

Myth 6: Doctors can’t be trusted because they are paid for what they do. It is better to trust someone who isn’t getting paid, for example, a celebrity chef on the internet or a random stranger on an online forum. These people don’t make a living from health therefore you can trust them to tell the truth.

Fact: This makes no sense to me. Your health is kind of important. Someone who makes a living providing health care is forever continuing their education and updating their knowledge. They care about your health because they care about you, AND because it’s their job. Their livelihood depends on giving you the best care they can, so why wouldn’t they want to do a good job? They aren’t after fame or fortune. Unless it’s Dr Oz- that’s a whole other blog post.
You should think of the pilot analogy here. Who do you want piloting your healthcare? A trained professional who does it all the time, or someone who just dabbles in it and makes it up as they go? Here’s a fun article about that.

Thanks for reading. I don’t hold out any hope that anyone who believes in these myths would even read this post let alone change their mind. I just wanted to get it off my chest. It hurts to be misjudged, to be called corrupt or untrustworthy when you are doing your damnedest to give good care.

Image: Crepes with icecream: a timeless natural remedy against hurtful rumours.