My blog post the other day about the surgeon who committed battery by placing a temporary tattoo on an unconscious patient has generated quite a bit of, shall we say, consternation among some physicians and surgeons. In re-reading the post, I see that it was written in a way that was overly hyperbolic and generalized even for PhysioProf.
And for that, I am genuinely sorry. As bloggers, we always try to create controversy and argument, but I see that in this case I went too far.
Although I am not an MD, I love being a peripheral part of the medical profession, love being a basic science faculty member at a medical school, and love teaching medical students. I care very deeply for my medical students, and spend a lot of time and effort on effective teaching. I also have great affection for them, and wish them only the best in their future medical careers.
And that is why I am so concerned about the behavior of the “tattoo surgeon”. I do see an issue with paternalism, arrogance, and omnipotence in the profession, and I do not see the behavior of this surgeon as being solely attributable to a “lone bad actor”. Bad acts occur in a context, and I believe that to at least some extent, the medical profession includes a context that makes bad acts like this one more likely.
Accordingly, I disagree strenuously with something PalMD posted today about this issue:
The days of systematic pathologic paternalism on the part of doctors is long gone. It may linger in places, but it’s just not part of the culture anymore.
I believe this is not true, and it harms the medical profession to pretend that there is no longer an issue to be addressed.