Respected professions must not be allowed to bully the public

To the Expositor:

There is a worrisome trend that seems to be emerging in the health service industry: the withdrawal of services from patients who act contrary to the doctor’s social or political values or who smoke cigarettes or are chronically obese.

The latest incident that I’m aware of concerns an Island dentist who will not treat elected municipal or band officials who are in favour of wind turbines. Here are the Core Values of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario:

1. Autonomy – understanding and respecting patients’ rights to make informed decisions based on personal values and beliefs
2. Beneficence – maximizing benefits and minimizing harm for the welfare of the patient
3. Compassion – acting with sympathy and kindness to all patients in alleviating their concerns and pain
4. Fairness – treating all individuals, patients, colleagues and third parties in a just and equitable manner
5. Integrity – being truthful, behaving with honour and decency and upholding professional standards

Nobody’s perfect, and anyone can stray from these standards. But they should try to return to them.

I have been told of doctors who will not treat a cigarette smoker. Many readers will agree with this stance while remaining unaware of serious psychological peril that visits certain people when they try to break this addiction. Doctors, on the other hand, have no reason to be unaware of or unsympathetic to these dangers, and it is unconscionable that smokers should be limited in seeking medical help.

I have also been informed by an acquaintance that his doctor terminated his care stemming from a difference in Manitoulin Island land use. (Also reported to me is an automotive mechanic who has vowed not to repair any turbine-supporter’s car.)

I am not writing to make mischief. I am writing to voice things that have truly disturbed me and have contributed mightily to the rents in our social fabric. Certain professions and competencies are rightly especially respected. Doctors or mechanics that act as I have described should change their ways or face investigation by their governing bodies or censure in the marketplace. They deserve our compassion and understanding, but they must not be allowed to bully the public.

Philip Dabous
Little Current