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Old 08-24-2005, 08:48 AM   #1
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More PC nonsense

Is it ok to say anything in this country anymore?

ROCHESTER, N.H. - As doctors warn more patients that they should lose weight, the advice has backfired on one doctor with a woman filing a complaint with the state saying he was hurtful, not helpful.

Dr. Terry Bennett says he tells obese patients their weight is bad for their health and their love lives, but the lecture drove one patient to complain to the state.

"I told a fat woman she was obese," Bennett says. "I tried to get her attention. I told her, 'You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.' "

He says he wrote a letter of apology to the woman when he found out she was offended.

Her complaint, filed about a year ago, was initially investigated by a panel of the New Hampshire Board of Medicine, which recommended that Bennett be sent a confidential letter of concern. The board rejected the suggestion in December and asked the attorney general's office to investigate.

Bennett rejected that office's proposal that he attend a medical education course and acknowledge that he made a mistake.

Bruce Friedman, chairman of the board of medicine, said he could not discuss specific complaints. Assistant Attorney General Catherine Bernhard, who conducted the investigation, also would not comment, citing state law that complaints are confidential until the board takes disciplinary action.

The board's Web site says disciplinary sanctions may range from a reprimand to the revocation of all rights to practice in the state.

"Physicians have to be professional with patients and remember everyone is an individual. You should not be inflammatory or degrading to anyone," said board member Kevin Costin.

Other overweight patients have come to Bennett's defense.

"What really makes me angry is he told the truth," Mindy Haney told WMUR-TV on Tuesday. "How can you punish somebody for that?"

Haney said Bennett has helped her lose more than 150 pounds, but acknowledged that the initially didn't want to listen.

"I have been in this lady's shoes. I've been angry and left his practice. I mean, in-my-car-taking-off angry," Haney said. "But once you think about it, you're angry at yourself, not Doctor Bennett. He's the messenger. He's telling you what you already know."
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:50 AM   #2
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some people...
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:51 AM   #3
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This seems to be more about a woman with issues than about any political correctness.
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:51 AM   #4
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it all depends on how he said it. If he looked at somebody straight in the eye and said "I'm worried about you, you are too heavy, you are going to kill yourself" that is fine but if he was rude about it then he needs to tell the woman he is sorry. Should he be forced out of practice for being rude? No, of course not.
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:53 AM   #5
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It doesn't sound like he said it in a rude way, given that other patients have stepped forward and said that he is a good doc.

When I hear stories like this, it makes me wonder why on earth I want to be a physician.
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:58 AM   #6
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I heard about this today on the radio show I listen to...

This is the same woman, who after having a heart attack brought on by her obesity, would probably sue the same doctor for not telling her what risk she was at.

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Old 08-24-2005, 08:59 AM   #7
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It takes wisdom and maturity to seek advice.

Some people just don't want to hear what they need to hear.
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Old 08-24-2005, 11:53 AM   #8
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Sounds like my grandma. She's ignored her doctor for years while she would spend 8 months of the year vacationing in Florida, lying by the pool all day and eating unhealthy food nonstop, then developed diabetes, then had a massive heart attack, and now does nothing but complain about her health conditions and how people are always nagging her to exercise.
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Old 08-24-2005, 12:06 PM   #9
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I agree with those who question what this has to do with "political correctness." It seems it's a case either of a doctor being unnecessarily rude or a patient taking offence too easily, but has very little to do with the wider subject of political correctness.
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:28 PM   #10
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I think it's human nature for people to feel hurt by someone saying something like that- truth or not, it hurts if it's said in an insensitive way. If she felt it was insensitive, that's the reality for her.

After my recent experience w/ a family member and an extremely insensitive doctor, I understand the importance of a doctor who relates to a patient in a kind, compassionate way.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by DrTeeth
This seems to be more about a woman with issues than about any political correctness.
Exactly...but PC has become a favorite and very easy scapegoat.
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:43 PM   #12
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PC or not, what is an Attorney General doing investigating a complaint of this nature?
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Old 08-24-2005, 03:13 PM   #13
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Exactly...but PC has become a favorite and very easy scapegoat.
Like Conservative Christianity, you mean?
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Old 08-24-2005, 03:18 PM   #14
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Like Conservative Christianity, you mean?
Very similar.
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Old 08-25-2005, 04:51 AM   #15
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I knew it had to be something like this, not just the obese comments. If a doctor said something as sexist and rude to me, he might be wearing his stethoscope in an entirely different place. Yes that is the reason for women to lose weight "doctor".

from 360 last night

O'BRIEN: Dr. Terry Bennett may have been trying to help his patient when he told her that she was obese and needed to lose weight. But she wasn't happy both with the diagnosis and the advice. In fact, the patient was so upset she filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Board of Medicine. Now, the state attorney general is looking into the matter.

Joining us from Manchester, New Hampshire is Dr Terry Bennett. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us.

DR. TERRY BENNETT, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: The patient who has not be named is 5'7, 250 pounds. What exactly did you tell her?

BENNETT: Well, the first thing is I don't know how much she weighed, because she would never allow herself to step on my scale. So, I'm giving you a guess at best.

O'BRIEN: OK. Let's guess, 5'7, 250 pounds. What exactly did you tell her?

BENNETT: That she was headed on a course that would cause her to die young and die badly and die expensively, which is what happens with obese patients, as we all understand. So, she basically got a factual lecture. It's the same lecture I give every obese patient, there's a variation between male and female. But the lecture is the same. You don't get to live to be old. Your last ten years are awful. You spent fortunes on medicine and medical treatments. And they don't lengthen your life, because there's a turning point where we can't recover what's been lost.

O'BRIEN: Did you tell her, and in the period, you are not going to be attractive to men, some version of that?

BENNETT: Here is what the statistics. This is a fact-based lecture. Here's the statistics. Men die sooner than women no matter whether they are thin or fat. So, there is a diminishing supply of men as we age, vis a vis, supply of women. If you poll men, at any age, what's their ideal woman. It doesn't include obesity. There is only one group where that doesn't apply, and it's a very small group, so that's an irrelevancy.

So, you have built-in preferences of men no matter what they themselves look like, and there's nothing fair or reasonable about this, but they want a runway model.

Now, women conversely start off early...

O'BRIEN: I will stop you there, because, basically, you were telling her about what the men want, part of the equation that you're giving there. Did you think, though, that weighing in -- and I mean no pun by that -- on her likelihood of finding love at some point in her life because she's obese was a valid medical opinion to be giving her, to be sharing?

BENNETT: Well, you have to understand the context. She is married to a very obese man. He's guaranteed, statistically speaking to predecease her by as much as 10 to 15 years. And that's the point of that portion of the talk.

O'BRIEN: Do you think you were wrong in anything you said to her?

BENNETT: No, I told her the truth. And it's the very same lecture that I give it to everybody, including Melinda Hainey (ph), who has been on TV with me two or three times...

O'BRIEN: This is the patient who said very clearly that you helped her lose a lot of weight.

But you wrote to the patient -- she said she was offended -- you wrote to her and you apologized. Why apologize if you don't think you did anything wrong?

BENNETT: Well, because it's not my job to offend people, my job is to enlighten people and to get them to take a step in their own health care direction to incorporate knowledge and get better. I mean, that's what my job is, it's not to hurt your feelings, it's certainly not to make you mad.

O'BRIEN: Has this changed about how you tell patients, or as you would say, tell them the truth about their medical situation?

BENNETT: I tend now to preface this whole unpleasant lecture with the preface that I'm going to tell you some things that are really and truly unpleasant, there's nothing personal about them, but I want you to hear all the facts so you understand why I'm concerned and why I think you should be. That helps a lot.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Terry Bennett, nice to talk to you. Thanks.

BENNETT: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Obesity is not only a sensitive issue, it's a growing one as well. Here is the 360 download. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 60 million Americans are obese, that's one out of ever four people. Mississippi is the nation's most over weight state with 29.5 percent of its population obese. On the other end of the scale, so to speak, is Colorado. At 16.8 percent, it has the lowest rate in the United States. Do you think Dr. Bennett acted unethically when he called his patient obese? My next guest thinks so. He's here to tell us why. Bruce Weinstein is the ethics guy. And the author of "Life's Principals: Feeling Good by Doing Good." Nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.

Do you think, in fact, that Dr. Bennett did something wrong?

BRUCE WEINSTEIN, AUTHOR: It was unethical for Dr. Bennett to say what he did, because the fundamental principle -- the fundamental ethical principle for not just physicians but for all of us is do no harm. And the words that Dr. Bennett used, not just the way that he said the words, but the words themselves were harmful.

O'BRIEN: But when they say do no harm, they mean don't injure your patient, they don't mean pussyfoot around the diagnosis so you don't hurt the patient's feelings, right?

WEINSTEIN: Well, we can harm people not just by what we do, by what we say, also. And the words that Dr. Bennett chose were humiliating. It humiliated the patient. It created anxiety that was completely unnecessary. It was foreseeable that these words would injure the persons feelings, not just offend her, but to harm her. And so he violated this fundamental ethical principle.

O'BRIEN: He said, in a nutshell, I'm being honest and the statistics support me. There is not one thing I'm telling patient that is not true.

WEINSTEIN: Well, the ethical obligation to be honest does not mean to tell the raw, naked, unvarnished bold truth in a way that can be harmful, or to use words that might reasonably hurt a person's feelings. That's not what telling the truth means.

O'BRIEN: Do think that if he had stopped at the you're obese part and hadn't gone into the no man's going to find you attractive...

WEINSTEIN: Absolutely. That was completely irrelevant. It struck fear into this person...

O'BRIEN: If he had stopped at your obese, would that be unfair?

WEINSTEIN: Well, I mean, the physician has an obligation to say exactly what obesity means, that there's an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and so forth, but to venture into the romantic area and to essentially strike fear into this person's heart, harms her, it creates anxiety. It's not hopeful.

O'BRIEN: It's fear that's coming from these facts from the CDC itself. It -- doesn't he have an obligation as a doctor to say to a smoker, here it is how it is going to kill you. It is going to stop your lungs, you're going to the capillaries are first going to...

WEINSTEIN: And you are going to tie of a painful, upsetting heart attack that will render you filled with grief and will besmirch your reputation, and will harm your friends and family members -- I mean, you could play it out and see how ridiculous it is to tell the whole, complete, naked, unvarnished truth. And that's wrong.

O'BRIEN: He apologized. He wrote a letter. He didn't realize the patient was offended. He said, she didn't come across as offended in the examination room. When he found out, he wrote her a letter and apologized. He thinks that should be that.

WEINSTEIN: He should be apology. Because he just said he would do it again, and he will do it again. And so, he's saying I apologize, but on the other hand he also says, I did nothing wrong. And when what Dr. Bennett really needs to see is that what he did, not the way he did it, but what he did was not just offensive, it was harmful and it violated the most fundamental ethical principle that applies to all of us: do no harm.

O'BRIEN: What should the punishment be?

WEINSTEIN: Well, he should be reprimanded by the state board which I believe is still looking into the matter. And I believe that the national publicity he's getting from this could also serve as some punishment. I hope that he'll get enough letters from patients to say, this is not appropriate.

O'BRIEN: Bruce Weinstein, nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us this evening. Appreciate it.
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