Dr. Leana Wen, physician and author of “What Your Doctor Won’t Disclose,” details a recent experience of her mother, Mrs. Wen. When she received a diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer, she underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy according to the request of her oncologist.
One day, in the middle of her treatment, Mrs. Wen searched online for her oncologist’s phone number and was horrified to learn that her doctor was a paid spokesperson for the drug regimen he was administering to her.
Maybe these drugs were her best option, but perhaps the oncologist had a major conflict of interest. Mrs. Wen lost all trust in her doctor, “and when that trust is gone, then all that’s left is fear,” states the author in a recent TED Talk.
“There’s a hidden epidemic in medicine,” she continued, “we don’t just have a fear of sickness; we have a sickness of fear.”
Take-Aways from Dr. Wen’s talk:
- Chemotherapy is the ONLY drug that doctors sell DIRECTLY and make DIRECT profits from its sale.
- Monetary incentives permeate the medical profession, giving rise to patient cynicism, fear and mistrust.
- An epidemic of fear is rife among patients and doctors alike. While patients fear illness, medics fear lawsuits. Thus, doctors erect impersonal, self-preservatory barriers to keep patients at arm’s length, exacerbating the vicious cycle of fear and mistrust.
- In order to trust their medics, patients need to know that their doctors are qualified, that they give impartial diagnoses and that they share their patients’ values on issues such as end-of-life decisions and women’s reproductive rights.
- Though many courageous physicians embrace transparency regarding values, a “sickness of fear” prevents other more skeptical physicians from developing open, trusting relationships with their patients.
- A better paradigm of medical care can develop if doctors and patients work openly and recognize the importance of trusting relationships.