Fibbing for patients is a blow to honesty and integrity of medicine

LETTER — Posted July 11, 2005

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

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.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn