Speak Up

  

You are a Jewish physician. A man comes in as a new patient, tattooed head to toe with neo-nazi symbols and swastikas. He makes some hate filled, threatening statements about several ethnic populations, including the Jewish people but does not attack you directly because he does not realize who you are. You are very uncomfortable. 

Should you have the right to refuse to treat him?

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192 thoughts on “Speak Up

  1. Hey Victoire. My answer is “Yes”. Plain and simple. Unless it’s an ER situation and the guy is pissing blood, then you have to save the sorry SOB. Otherwise? Refer him to a colleague.
    PS. Thanks for the visit. Hope you enjoyed the “Doc story”.
    PS2. I need to check my suscriptions, you have disappeared from my mail. šŸ˜¦ Darn!
    PS3. No worry, I’ll track you down. Have a smooth end of week. Your son better yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. But to answer your question: I think you should have the right to refuse to treat him. If he would not make the remarks and only show the tattoos… not sure. Tattoos are hard to get rid of and maybe he would prefer not to have them anymore… some people do change. Still a tricky one… I would also be sort of worried… if he is really that aggressive and you refuse to treat him, kind of letting him know that you are jewish, he might also wait for you behind a corner somewhere… there are sick people out there… actually said that we have to consider stuff like this at all…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’d imagine, no, Victo, painful as it might be, if he needs help and I use the word, need, with care, then you must be obliged to give it. I’ve worked in service industry jobs for years and, although the circumstances are not nearly comparable, I’ve often served idiots, if you’ll pardon the expression, I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. At the same time, if they stepped out of line or over a line you felt was beyond redemption, then fuck ’em, tell them to get lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think there are other actions possible. Call me foolish, but I would say: ” You are here as a patient, please stop taking politics. And by the way I am Jewish, are you sure you want my help?”
    In a cold, flat voice.
    I did this once to a patient who said something anti Semitic in my GP office.
    It worked. He apologised and said ” Nothing to duo with you, doctor”
    “Oh it does ” I said. I am Jewish. The secular pork eating variety. Patients should be treated whatever their opinions, but not whatever their behavior.
    If the patient carried on,I would say: ” Unless you concentrate on the medical reasons of your visit, please leave,.”
    I used that cold rational approach many times. I don’t look angry, just disinterested. It works. Nobody hit me.
    yet.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Dear goodness, I don’t know. Maybe treat him the once, and then, afterwards, say, “By the way, I’m Jewish, and your comments were extremely hurtful. I won’t be able to treat you again, but I hope you have a lovely day.” It seems like the polite way to say, “screw you.” *sigh* I don’t know why we’re all so hateful after all these years…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Not only should you have the RIGHT to refuse to treat him, but I would honestly think it would be in everyone’s best interest if you refused. Think about the med mal claim he’d try to initiate if even the slightest thing went wrong, and he’d be the first to complain like that if he ever found out who treated him. Plus, I bet he’d be the first to complain if you did treat him and he only later found out that his doctor was Jewish. He’d claim HE had the right to know that ahead of time and be allowed to refuse to go there. Well, that’s my two cents for the day. I hope you’re doing well! xoxo ā¤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ho boy – excellent question. But doctors have that ‘Hippocratic oath,’ right? But I’d think it ethical if the Jewish doc could hand off that patient to a doctor who wouldn’t be at risk. On the one hand, there are many ignorant, frightful, evil people out there. If we refused service to all of them, we’d be out of a ‘service’ profession. But on the right hand, why the hell do we need to accommodate evil mean spiteful people? But if the Jewish doctor refuses, is it right to make another doc put up with the patient? Thanks for allowing me to think out loud here. :-0

    Liked by 1 person

    • Passing off like that difficult for specialists in independent practice. The physician who saw him completed the visit and did not say anything about their background which is probably the best way to have handled it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “Everything is permitted” does not mean that nothing is forbidden. – Albert Camus

    Beneath the question “Should you have the right to refuse to treat him?” is the question “Should you refuse to treat him?” The first question is a question for the world of the mind with its notions of rights and justice and law, whereas the second question for the world of the spirit – with it realm of ethics and morality. Sometimes we are lucky when the answers to the two questions do not clash. The dilemma arises when they do not align. Yes, one might hear, you have the right to refuse service to anyone (as the sign in so many stores will tell the potential customers, but no, says the vow to serve those who are suffering.

    And then there is a possible twist. I have known a few men who had at one point tattooed swastikas and other offending symbols / images to their bodies, yet later had their eyes opened and repudiated that person who they once were. Yet still they were stuck with the choices of that person who they no longer are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely right on all counts. If it is not possible to provide good care because you cannot control your negative emotions you should remove yourself from treating that individual. You have an obligation to do so. Aside from that, two wrongs don’t make a right, as my mother would say. We all want to believe that physicians are bigger than their emotions but sometimes that is not the case. They are humans after all. šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • indeed, physicians are human, with emotions, flaws, and blessings (I do want my brain surgeon, if I should happen to need one, to believe he or she is god). All I ask of them is what I ask of myself and others — to endeavor to act in accordance with their better natures. It is not success I look for, but the intent, the effort, the struggle.

        On the other side, if someone takes a vow as physicians do, who am I to judge him or her in how they choose to align their actions in accordance with those vows. I just need to keep my side of the street clean, as some folks would say in the AA meetings when I used to attend them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I ask because I really enjoy hearing what other people have to say about the topic. Just because you or anyone else is not a physician does not mean your opinion does not matter. Perhaps, as a healthcare consumer, your opinion is even more important than mine on this subject. šŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • that you ask is the key…if more physicians felt the authentic impulse to want to know such things then maybe there wouldn’t be a rift which we seem to have between the medical community and the consumers of health services.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Refusing to treat such a person might get you fired if you work for an organization. It’s a violation of medical ethics. If you’re in private practice, I’d say it’s up to you. In that case I’d probably tell him to find another doctor. There could however be an opportunity to educate him, as others here have suggested. Depends on communication, including body language and, of course, the nature and urgency of the medical complaint. Another consideration is the chance of increasing his bigotry and hatred by a refusal or less than proper care. Bottom line: a judgement call.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think that it would be okay to apply an across the board stance on threatening conduct. If he doesn’t have tattoos, no one might know he’s a racist. Especially if his behavior is appropriate. We interact with complete bigots all day long in society and never know it if they live by our shared social contract to go about their day in peace and shut their yap in public. But if threatening crap is coming out of his mouth or body language, that’s a conduct problem. If you apply some conduct agreements to all patients, it will cover you for poor behavior no matter the cause, whether racism, sexism, or general ass-holery. It’s fair and even handed and applies to everyone the same. Because in this world, people can be whoever they want, but they can’t just behave however they want. Then it’s not an ethical quandary for the doc- it’s a patient’s choice to either accept the policies of that practice, or not. It’s on them. In an outpatient setting especially, doctors terminate treatment relationships for far less. It seems fair to draw a hard line on all threatening behavior toward doc, staff, or other patients.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There is some great advice here. I think you are brave and he is an a–hole. This tattoos will remind him of all the horror the Jewish have overcome despite what was done to them. Your people won, they lost. Kudos to you, what ever your decision is.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi!

    I don’t know about flat out telling him, “I refuse to treat you.” But I would definitely excuse myself at the first opportunity and see if another doctor could take care of him (and alert Security). There’s no sense in staying in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Liebster Award Nomination Pt. 2 | theanalyzedlife

  14. I’d treat him. Things that bother others don’t seem to bother me as much. I’d only not treat him if he made it impossible by his behaviour, violence and such, then it would be ‘next!’ But everyone has a right to their opinion in my own humble opinion, I don’t have to agree with his and he would not be allowed to take up any important bits of my brain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Entitled to opinions, sure. And we don’t have to agree with them. However when those opinions are expressed in a way that encroaches upon other’s civil rights…. patients in the waiting room, staff, etc.

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      • But do they? I suppose it would have to depend on precisely what he said and I can’t remember if you elaborated on that. And I’ll be honest, if you took that question further and said he had previously done some harm to my family member, all bets would be off. Professionalism out of the window. Not even gonna lie. ‘Oh I’m sorry arsenic doesn’t go into a saline drip? My bad.’
        Great question though.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Technically, legally, you don’t have to see him. Once you HAVE seen him, though, you have to dismiss him if you want to get rid of him. That means spending a certified letter explaining you are dismissing him and then you must continue to treat on an emergency basis for one month after the date of the letter.

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