Doctors fired for pointing out out problems

Medical Societies Issue Bold Statement of Physician Support – Medscape – by Sheila Mulrooney Eldred – April 05, 2020

At least one physician has been fired for speaking out about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) in his hospital.

I thought this only happened in China.

Another was informed he couldn’t wear a mask brought from home for fear of scaring the patients.

Again, this is exactly what they did in China, punish anyone who showed evidence of concern. 

One by one the stories piled up, and as they did, medical societies and organizations have issued statements with unprecedented speed, all in support of healthcare workers.

They act as though “issuing a statement” were a concretely helpful action when it’s just more bluster being ignored while doctors and nurses are doing their best.

Anyone can easily “issue a statement”, but it’s only useful if it leads to change.

Finally, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) had enough: it posted its own statement on behalf of all of its 45 member organizations, representing 800,000 physicians.

 “Every organization — especially the ones on the frontlines — was hearing awful things from doctors and we all wanted to fast-track this and get something out there.

“The coalition’s five-point statement

  • urges the government to ensure adequate supplies of PPE,
  • supports the recent Joint Commission statement that allows healthcare workers to use their own PPE,
  • reminds institutions of their responsibility to provide protection for their workers, and
  • declares that a nationwide reporting system on PPE is needed.”

The statement also informs hospitals, quite pointedly, that employees should not face any form of retribution for voicing concerns about health and safety, even to the media.

“Our ethics policy is that physicians need to be able to speak out as part of professional and ethical respect on issues that affect public health and safety,” he said.

US doctors have been ringing the alarm bell to decry that hospitals and their employee-contracting companies don’t seem to embrace those ethics.

Ming Lin, MD, one of several who have received media attention recently, spoke up on Facebook about inadequate PPE and crowded waiting rooms at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington. After doing so, he said,he was fired.

While some organizations will help counsel individual doctors facing retribution from their hospitals, McLean said their primary motivation “is because we realize the importance of raising public awareness and putting pressure on government and regulatory agencies.”

Author: Sheila Eldred is a freelance health journalist in Minneapolis. Find her on Twitter @MilepostMedia.

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