Here’s hoping 2021 will be better than 2020. Although, 2020 for me wasn’t as bad as it was for some people. Take for example Susan Moore, MD; she said she had to beg for proper care: “This is how Black people get killed” (https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/90412) she said. She died from COVID and began a tweet storm about her experience along the way as she literally was dying. She said “racism impacted (her) care.” This story has been making its rounds on social media and is absolutely abhorrent. As a father of bi-racial children, I find it reprehensible that in the year 2020/2021 racism can still be a factor in healthcare. Moreover, I find it infuriating that adults are rather stupid when it comes to this issue, and perhaps we should follow the example of children. They say children are colorblind. I have certainly seen this in my own children. And who remembers growing up in church where there was a children’s song that went something like this:
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
This post is not religious or political, I am not going to thump a Bible on anybody, but maybe Dr. Moore’s case should serve as a reminder of the Hippocratic Oath (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hippocratic-oath) as an ethical code on how to treat people. If that is too complex, just ask a child, they will likely tell you in s snarky fashion “treat people the way you want to be treated.” Or they will reference this as the Golden Rule. How is this forgotten along the way as the healthcare workforce is supposed to be ethical and educated. Anyway, here it is, the Hippocratic Oath in all its glory:
I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation—to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!
Now, about Dr. Moore’s case, as an individual, a black woman, and even an MD she should not have had to ” beg for a CT of my chest, which I finally got, and it showed large mediastinal lymphadenopathy, right lower lobe infiltrate, [and] a new left lower lobe infiltrate.” Now I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding her case, I can only go off of what she wrote, but this was her perception so this was her reality. What they teach us in psychiatry is to try to step inside the person’s world and understand the world as they see it to get to the root of their problems, thoughts, and feelings. She was undoubtedly scared. She had a right to be. Even if she was difficult patient as the IU statement alludes to (what is that anyway?), our Oath specifically implies to apply reverence to whatever patient with whatever condition presents to us for healing.
- Here they forgot their compassion:
After our preliminary medical quality review, I am fully confident in our medical team and their expertise to treat complex medical cases. I do not believe that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care. I am concerned, however, that we may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients. I am worried that our care team did not have the time due to the burden of this pandemic to hear and understand patient concerns and questions.
- Here they labeled her as difficult
the perspective of a nursing team trying to manage a set of critically ill patients in need of care who may have been intimidated by a knowledgeable patient who was using social media to voice her concerns and critique the care they were delivering
So what do we learn to make 2021 a better year? Back to the basics of human behavior, and in case you forgot, ask a child!