Maybe I haven’t been paying close attention. Forgive me, I’ve been a bit busier than usual. When did it become acceptable or seemingly the norm to attack the medical community for simply doing our jobs?
I understand that corporations, notably big pharma, and all politicians have inherent biases as profits, constituents, and election campaigns influence their agendas. However, it has always been one of my foundational beliefs that scientists, public health officials, and physicians choose to dedicate our careers to the protection of lives, the advancement of knowledge, and to serve our communities for the betterment of the human condition. We all knew that this path included both great personal reward and great personal sacrifice.
We endeavor to make good-faith recommendations based on the best information we have at the time. We don’t always get it right. New data lead us to abandon previous positions and modify our advice. This is not incompetence; it is not “flip-flopping.” We are simply following the data, analyzing outcomes and trends, and revising our guidance based upon the success or just as importantly, failures of our interventions.
If our findings and opinions don’t suit partisan, religious, or industry needs, we increasingly find ourselves being publicly discredited, humiliated, threatened, and at times physically attacked. Government and special interest efforts on multiple levels have now turned towards organized, thinly veiled efforts at questioning our expertise, vilifying and delegitimizing us.
Are we as a nation devolving towards dictatorship or becoming a banana republic where dissidents will simply disappear in the night? Are we witnessing the emergence of a new dark age of medicine and science? Would it surprise you if some of us are soon “detained,” or dunked in a lake to see if we float, or burned at the stake for heresy? This should scare the hell out of everybody.
Robert E. Tuchler is a plastic surgeon. The author’s opinions are his own and not those of Kaiser Permanente or the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.
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