Doctors behaving badly harm all of our health

Dr. Edward V. Craig comments on


His words rushed back to me recently as I read on the Internet of two headline-grabbing instances where doctors appeared to have deeply violated patient trust. Last week, a Philippine hospital recommended possible dismissal of a group of surgeons and a nurse whose rowdy, unprofessional behavior while removing an object from the rectum of a patient was posted on a video on YouTube. The video, seen by millions, showed doctors and nurses laughing and cheering, and someone shouting “Baby out!” And back in December, a Phoenix surgeon photographed a patient’s tattooed penis with a cell phone while the patient was undergoing gallbladder surgery.

These were not cases of doctors “snapping” from pressure or exhaustion. These episodes were careless and stupid, may have been illegal, and at the very least reflected a blatant and cruel disregard for patient privacy.

More than 3,000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, penned an oath, a variation of which virtually all medical students take upon completing their studies, which established patient privacy as essential to medical practice. “What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment … I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.”


Betrayal always hurts. But the violation of personal privacy by our doctor when we are at most vulnerable is especially egregious. These events were probably not premeditated, and may not even have been intended as malicious, but they were cruel. They were unethical. And they were so avoidable.


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