Saturday, February 13, 2010

Only in New Zealand. Maybe...

From the Sydney Morning Herald...

Foul-mouthed surgeon blasts fat patient

February 11, 2010

A foul-mouthed New Zealand surgeon has been reprimanded after swearing at a severely obese patient.

A 44-year-old mother filed a complaint about the doctor after a tense consultation with him last year, The New Zealand Herald reports.

The doctor said f--- at least three times to the Maori woman after she told him she didn't like the word "diet" and preferred the term "lifestyle".

He told her she was, "going on a f---ing diet".

In the letter of complaint, the woman wrote: "[The doctor] said if I couldn't handle the word diet then he challenged my motivation and stated that I would never survive surgery because I was still bullshitting myself and therefore my thinking was still f---ed".

In response to the woman's concerns, the doctor said they no longer had a "therapeutic relationship" and scratched her from the gastric bypass waiting list.

New Zealand's Health and Disability Commissioner, Ron Paterson, said the doctor, who admitted using bad language, had been unprofessional and insulting.

Whatever the doctor may have thought when he uttered the 'f---'s—or he may just have had a real shitty day—this kind of approach is at the very least unprofessional.

What the article doesn't say is that, as was reported on TV, the doctor was told to attend 'sensitivity' classes as a result of this. Whatever the merits of the case, does that not have echoes of A Clockwork Orange? Seems to me like having to attend such classes could constitute disproportionate punishment.

Oh, and by the way and for those who haven't spotted it, you can't "go on a lifestyle". You may change a lifestyle; just like you can change a diet, of course. But a lifestyle is much more than a diet, which may be a part of a lifestyle. So, apart from the invectives and the, potentially damaging, act of scratching her from his gastric bypass list, the doctor may not be that much of a total pillock. It could also be argued that maybe scratching someone, whom he considered to be a lost cause, made space for others more likely to show positive results from the procedure. The issue is fraught with a number of very big ethical pitfalls. The same goes for such issues as how to assess whether to give liver transplants to alcoholics that show no sign of changing their ways.

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