A dangerous tone has crept into medical discourse

A dangerous tone has crept into medical discourse. By James Kildare.

Over the last year, it has become increasingly common to encounter medical professionals talking (with apparent glee) when they hear of someone getting unwell if they feel that person made the ‘wrong’ decision.

This change in attitude can only happen when we start seeing healthcare decisions as moral ones, rather than as factual ones; and as ‘group decisions’ instead of ‘personal decisions’.

What is new is a current of disgust towards people who may disagree with a medical opinion. Of all the sentiments, ‘disgust’ is particularly dangerous and swiftly leads to an escalating chasm between clinician and patient. It is this chasm which stops us functioning as effective clinicians, and prevents us from reflecting on ourselves. …

All of us should be concerned that it is now frequent to hear medical staff opining that ‘we should not treat people who are unvaccinated’. This started with a specific reference to Covid, but has now increasingly become about any treatment at all. … Curiously, this view is often held by those who most fervently believe healthcare is a basic universal right.

Arguments like this are incredibly dehumanising and undermine the basis for our profession. If we were consistent with this thinking and didn’t treat people who presented with injuries of their own making, it would exclude the majority of patients. Diabetes in people who don’t exercise or have a good diet? Liver disease in alcoholics? The comorbidities associated with drug-taking? The examples go on…

Conversely, if the argument is that we need to ‘spend money in the most efficient way within a public health service’, then by the same token we should stop funding rare childhood diseases. In terms of efficacy, mandating people take half an hour of exercise per day would have much more profound health benefits. …

Permitting no dissent:

A division is opening up within the medical cohort broadly between those who think the government should do anything and all they can, and those of us who have real concerns about how we are selling out our profession and the moral basis upon which medicine rests.

Those of us who have misgivings about government policy are being pressured, either actively or passively, not to share these concerns with others.

There is no system for feedback or channel for discussion. What is more, overhanging all of it is a fear we could be fired for not sharing the approved government line. We discuss the matter, but there is little way to organise these feelings or to feedback these sentiments. …

In order to put across a strong public health message, we have silenced criticism rather than engaging with it. Then, having stopped listening to contrary voices, we have convinced ourselves we cannot be wrong.

This is how you make the mother of all blunders.

Suppose in 2024, after years of masking, full hospitals, 10 vaccination shots each (two years of every three months, plus the original two), the public discovers facts such as the following despite the best efforts of the media and bureaucrats:

The Emperor-with-No-Clothes question: how come Indonesia (and India, Japan, tropical Africa, …) has almost no covid, not much vaccination, no masks, and no internment camps for those with less than eight shots?

Who will the western public blame?

hat-tip Stephen Neil