Friday, February 27, 2009

Personal beliefs cannot trump quality of medical care--ever.

Finally, the President is bringing some Constitutionality back to health care.

The Bush administration pushed through a regulation that allowed health care workers to refuse health care that violated their beliefs. Now, Obama is proposing to rescind such a reactionary, unconstitutional, and morally suspect piece of right-wing pandering.

Why do I oppose this regulation?

Health care professions are similar to the legal profession in that we assume the duty to perform to the best of our skills and to subordinate our personal interests to those we serve--it's known as a fiduciary obligation. Someone entering a field where people's lives are on the line has a fiduciary duty to subordinate their personal feelings and beliefs to the standard of care required in their field.

As a lawyer, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. I represented defendants in criminal cases that I found personally repugnant, but I took an oath to uphold the law even for those I thought should be locked up. The law is not some suggestion to be discarded in favor of our own predilections despite what medical school may teach.

Health care workers incapable of providing the highest standard of care due to personal beliefs have a moral obligation to leave the profession, since they obviously cannot give the best quality of care due to a personal issue.

Similarly, if I could no longer uphold the law because I disagreed with it, even for those most deserving of its punishment, then my fiduciary duty is to remove myself from its practice in order to protect the law from my personal failings.

No one argues that medical providers should sacrifice their beliefs, but they have a legal and moral duty to avoid placing themselves in situations where they will be forced to choose between their beliefs and the highest quality of care for their patients.

No one, even a doctor, has the authority to elevate their personal beliefs above that of their patients' well-being. That's the height of arrogance and self-righteousness.

Welcome back to some sanity.

No comments: