Judge doctors on qualifications and sensitivity -- not race or religion

LETTER — Posted May 1, 2006

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Regarding "Web sites let patients find like-minded physicians" (Article, March 27): Do we similarly promote sites for finding white doctors? Where do mixed-race doctors fit in? What of denominations and doctrinal differences within each religion? Does one restart his practice if his religious views change?

Is it not better to promote cultural awareness, sensitivity, and respect toward every patient among all doctors? I can give the same level of care and compassion to the devout or the agnostic, and I need to be cognizant of the idiosyncrasies of race and heritage, whether it be hypertension, thalassemia, or God's will. I see patients of other cultures, and the customs (especially toward treatment of women) vary widely.

Professional qualifications, including cultural/ethnic/racial/religious sensitivity are important: The vessel within which they are contained should not be so. If society is so insular that one cannot find important facts about a doctor from neighbors, co-workers, or church members, perhaps a site could be developed which lists numerous salient facts about each physician's beliefs, ethnicity, sexual preferences, attitudes toward same-sex couples, etc., as well as professional qualifications -- on the order of a dating service -- and match patients with compatible doctors within a specified geographical area.

I believe we should discourage such attempts at polarization, enlisting the aid of other personnel where necessary for broadening our cultural, ethnic, or racial perspectives.

James A. Holder, MD, Mitchell, Ind.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/05/01/edlt0501.htm.

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