Monday, June 04, 2012

Doctor Refuses To Give Man His HIV Medications

The Hippocratic Oath is historically taken by physicians, physician assistants' and other healthcare professionals swearing to practice medicine ethically. It is widely believed to have been written by Hippocrates, often regarded as the father of western medicine. 
This is the widely used modern version of the oath, as written by Dr. Louis Lasagna in 1964:
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not", nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.I will remember that I remain a member of society with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.
Keep that oath in mind......
Joao Simoes is a gay man; he is also HIV+. And he is suing the Trinitas Medical Center in New Jersey because, he says, the hospital denied him treatment and a visit from his sister, and that a doctor, upon learning that Simoes was HIV+, said, "This is what he gets for going against God's will."
Simoes says Dr. Susan Borga approached him while he was confined to the hospital's mental health wing. He watched as she spoke nonchalantly with one man who told her that he'd just gotten out of prison after serving time for murder, but her reaction to him was entirely different. Simoes told her of his HIV status, and Dr. Borga asked how he contracted HIV.
Simoes said, simply, "I got it from unprotected sex."
It was then, that Joao Simoes says Dr. Borga closed his file, put it down and looked at plaintiff with disgust on her face and asked, coldly, "Is that from sex with men?"
When he said 'Yes' Dr. Borga left the room.
After that, no nurse or doctor came to see Simoes, even though he needed to take his HIV medication. It wasn't until the third day of his stay that Simoes was allowed to call his personal physician, and it was then that he learned that Dr. Borga had already spoken to his doctor.
When Simoes' doctor told Borga about his HIV medications, she allegedly said: "You must be gay, too, if you're his doctor."
In court documents, Simoes' doctor says that, when Borga realized he had an accent, she said, "What, do you need a translator?"
He quietly responded, again, that Joao Simoes needed his HIV medications, and that's when Borga said, "This is what he gets for going against God's will" and hung up on him.
Let me say this: I don't smoke. Never have. I cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke. But, if I were a doctor, would I tell a patient with lung cancer that they got what they deserve?
Would I tell an alcoholic with cirrhosis of the liver that the disease is all their fault?
Would I tell an obese man I couldn't help him with his heart problems or diabetes because he brought this on himself?
I get that Dr. Borga has a religious viewpoint, but she is also a doctor.
She needs top pick one over the other.
And, from this story, I’d suggest she give up medicine and join a convent.



R.J. said...

People like her are the reason why I'm leery of doctors and dentists. I'll see them on a regular basis but it's still uncomfortable to know there are people like this possibly treating me.

Frank said...

Believe me, the convent wouldn't want her. Have you been keeping up with the nuns lately? Check out my new post.

Biki said...

Take her medical license away for ever. She is not a doctor by any stretch of the word.

Ralph Rynes said...

I do a GLBTQ cultural sensitivity and specialized clinical issues training annually to hopefully avert this sort of thing. I'm very blunt about attitudes and how they impact the care of GLBTQ persons, and whether individuals with "certain" attitudes should be treating a GLBTQ person at all. I tell them point-blank that if the attitude they harbor in their hearts is that a patient is sinful, immoral, (choose your term) they need to find another profession or be prepared to refer GLBTQ folks to another provider in a professional and non-judgemental way. Some people are simply not able to get over their prejudices (I, for example, have a real problem with so-called professionals that are stupid-you can't fix stupid), and those folks should refer their patients to someone who is culturally competent and sensitive the the special clinical needs of a given population.

anne marie in philly said...

this is the second time this week I am hearing about a doctor refusing treatment due to his/her "personal convictions". WRONG! get out of the medical profession if you will not treat EVERY PERSON with the dignity and respect they deserve!

Ask the Cool Cookie said...

IF true, and I can't find any source for this outside of the blog-o-sphere, I think the good doctor's malpractice insurance premium is about to go up, followed by a suspension of her license by the State Board. No matter how right you think you are, no one gets to play God, except God.

And oh dear! My CAPCTHA images to prove I am not a robot in posting this reads "Frenum 69". Don't see that often...