Thursday, October 18, 2012

Medical School Dean Promotes Herd Medicine

From East Carolina University medical school:
Dr. Libby Baxley, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the Brody School of Medicine, echoed Berwick's recommendations for changing the way doctors treat patients and said that would mean changing the way medical students are taught.
"We have to go beyond the traditional education … of the care of the individual and have our students think about populations," she said.
This is another example of what Dr. Rich Fogoros calls teaching "herd medicine".

More and more students are being taught this "new medical ethics".  As I wrote last year:
In traditional medical ethics, a doctor’s primary responsibility is to tell his patients the truth and to treat his patients according to his best honest judgment, skill, and ability.

But a new form of medical ethics is being taught in medical schools that tells doctors to place the needs of “society” ahead of individual patients. At best, it forces doctors to juggle the truth and the interests of their patients alongside “social” considerations. At worst, it will give them license to sacrifice their professional integrity (and their patients’ interests) in the name of “society”...

But what will happen under a new generation of doctors who have been taught that the individual patient’s welfare must be balanced with “social” considerations — such as the cost to the government or to “society”?
Suppose you see one of these newly trained doctors at the local Accountable Care Organization because you are suffering from the worst headache of your life. He performs a brief physical exam, then tells you that according to the new ACO practice guidelines, you don’t need a MRI scan of your brain — just take two Tylenol and call him in the morning. Can you be 100% sure that he’s truthfully advising you in your best medical interest? Or might he be compromising your medical interests to satisfy the ACO bean counter who will reward him based on how many MRI scans he saves the organization?

The new medical ethics allows doctors to salve their consciences by telling themselves that restricting care to patients serves the greater “social” good. Most people have a powerful (and natural) need to believe that the work they are doing is morally worthwhile.
Very few people can knowingly work in a fashion they believe to be ethically wrong. The new code of medical ethics gives doctors the internal psychological moral “cover” they need to allow themselves to continue practicing according to government guidelines. It allows them to act as agents of medical rationing, while telling themselves that “I’m just being socially responsible” — the 21st-century medical version of, “I was just following orders.”
Medical educators are heading down a dangerous road.

Update: Dr. Fogoros posted: "How to get the "Open Wide and Say Moo!" audiobook for free (a pre-election special).

(ECU link via John D.)