Monday, January 17, 2011

"I think I have bronchitis." "Never mind that, how 'bout a nose job?"

Today's Failbook fail: Bedside Manner.

The exchange that goes most of the way through the comments on this status is near and dear to my heart. I'm troubled by the medical profession a) upselling patients on entirely cosmetic services, and b) fat-shaming patients to the extent that they don't want to seek medical attention anymore.

To expand more on (a): this has happened to me quite a bit recently. I've moved, so I've had new dentists a couple times in the last three years. Every time I fill out a new patient intake form, I've had to answer bullshit questions like, "If you could change one thing about your smile, what would it be?" and "Are your teeth as white as you'd like them to be?" This angers me. I'm seeking medical attention, but instead of having my issues addressed, I'm being pressured to purchase things that will not make me healthier, just make the dentists richer. The same thing happens in dermatologists' offices (seeking treatment for a rash, I was made to fill out a form almost begging me to take an interest in Botox) and at the nutritionist (I was there because of an endocrine disorder, but hammered with offers for weight-loss products).

It's my opinion that this is a real violation of trust inherent in the doctor/patient relationship. But instead of going on and on about this, I'll merely point out that the patient in this Failbook post has a perfectly valid point. Why would a pediatrician's first question to her young patient be, "What are you doing about your acne?" This is bordering on unethical. Surely the appropriate first question is if she's been feeling all right lately and/or has any concerns or complaints.

Acne is not life-threatening. In all but a handful of cases, it is annoying but cosmetic, and disappears for most people naturally around age 20. Some adolescents feel strongly enough about their acne that they treat it, even when the treatments can have heavy side effects. Others prefer to let acne run its course. And most kids fall somewhere in the middle, putting Noxzema on it when it gets bad. These are all valid options, and a doctor shouldn't make acne an issue unless a patient brings it up.

Now, (b) is a much bigger issue. Others have written about it far more eloquently than I, but I'll make a few points:
  1. Shaming patients for their weight does not inspire them to keep up on medical care for themselves.
  2. Fat does not equal unhealthy.
  3. Changing your diet to lose weight does not work.
  4. If this doctor should be recommending anything, it's physical activity (which this girl may already be engaging in! -- who knows if the doctor even asked).
Good on this girl for recognizing the crappy care she's getting. So why is this Failbook post a fail, if the poster in the original status message brought up two big, legitimate issues about her medical care, and her friend backed her up? Can you guess? Can you???

If you guessed, "Some dude jumped into the thread and mansplained why the girls are OH SO WRONG," ten points to you!! And BRAVO. You truly know the power of the mansplanation.

Anyway, some jackass pops in and mouths crap about how these girls want their doctor to "pussyfoot" and "sugarcoat." No, they want their doctors to treat them with respect. I know, it's a radical notion: treating a pimply, fat teenage girl with respect?? ABSURD. NOT WHILE I STILL HAVE BREATH IN MY BODY.

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