A Matter of Life or Death?

By Stephanye R. Clarke

Earlier today I learned something that was disturbing. Call me naïve, but I really had no idea that legislation guides what providers can and cannot say to their patients in some states. When it comes right down to it, politics and the patient/provider relationship really should not be mixed and can prove to be a disastrous cocktail.

One of my coworkers recently attended a National Physicians Alliance (NPA) conference and shared their report (Politics in the Exam Room: A Growing Threat) and a corresponding Atlantic blog (New Report: Politics in the Exam Room) with me. Of particular concern to me was how some providers are being coerced into sharing incorrect and/or incomplete information.

The report, produced in collaboration with National Partnership for Women & Families, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, highlights three troubling examples where corporate interests have invaded the exam room, based on lobbying by corporate interests:

  • Gun safety
  • The impact of chemicals used in fracking on employee and community health
  • Women’s reproductive health

How is it possible that the relationship between a provider and patient is framed according to corporate/shareholder interests? And how can providers be expected to give the highest quality care possible if they’ve legally been gagged or required to spread misinformation? Information about whether or not a gun is in the house (along with whether or not optimal gun safety practices are being employed) can be as significant a predictor of health outcomes as is knowing whether or not everyone in a family is suddenly very ill due to exposure to dangerous chemicals/conditions in their neighborhoods. This could quite literally be a matter of life and death.

This has caused me to reflect carefully about questions that have been asked of me while chopping it up with my providers; it also has me wondering what questions may not have been asked and how that intersects with my current and future health.

How about you?

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