Fibbing for patients is a blow to honesty and integrity of medicine
LETTER — Posted July 11, 2005
Regarding "Would you fib for your patient?" (Article, June 13): It was very disturbing to read your article. It is a sad day in medicine when we have to even ask the question. I do hope that care and payment issues can be resolved so that the question never needs to be asked.
But the bigger issue is physician integrity. I have been in practice for 39 years, and there has been a gradual erosion of trust in the physician by society in general and often with individual patients. It is too easy to sign a work excuse when you haven't seen the patient for the illness. "Fibbing" for the patient can only lead to more and larger "fibs" until there is no such thing as honesty and integrity in the greatest of all professions.
Through the years, when the question has been asked, my response has been to refuse ever to tell a "little white lie" for a patient. The reason is simple: If you lie for a patient, you will lie to a patient.
There can never be a true position of trust between you and the patient the moment you cross that line. As a profession, we must seek for change where it is needed, but not at the sacrifice of honesty and integrity.
Donald E. Philgreen, MD, Kansas City, Mo.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/07/11/edlt0711.htm.