Ethics, oh how I love thee! You are the foundation, platform and pillars that build the bridge of quality care for patients and their families. You connect the patient to the provider, the symptom to the treatment, and the patient to a better quality of life.
So what happens when the bridge has been reconfigured with cables and a hydraulic lift called liability? Our once solid structure, built to deliver you safely and smoothly across your journey is now a drawbridge constructed with many moveable parts. It is now elevating in the center causing a disconnect between the patient and provider in hopes to prevent a long, costly court case for malpractice.
I am told that an important step to becoming a doctor is taking the Hippocratic Oath. In summary, the oath dictates the “obligations of the physician to students of medicine and the duties of pupil to teacher. In the oath, the physician pledges to prescribe only beneficial treatments, according to his abilities and judgment; to refrain from causing harm or hurt; and to live an exemplary personal and professional life.” (britannica.com. Hippocratic Oath).
In my opinion, the transition to a “sue-happy” society has resulted in a lack of innovative, patient centered treatment. Many things are done “by the book” and programs are centered around restrictions delegated by entities like the FDA. Although I feel the FDA and other governing agencies are extremely important, I also feel there has to be a little give in the process. I chose to address this topic because of the journeys I’ve traveled with 3 of my children related to feeding issues in early infancy. Each journey had its’ unique characteristics and treatments implemented for one didn’t always work for the others. It was a devastating, lonely, and exhausting journey that required much trial and error, money, the waiting game, and courageous advocacy!
Overall, I felt very limited when it came to support from medical professionals and programs in place to help babies and mothers. Although the docs took the Hippocratic Oath to prescribe only beneficial treatments, that definition was limited to what was approved by the FDA and the initiatives pushed by the Ohio Department of Health. Even though the ABC’s of sleep (alone, on her back, in the crib) were not working for me, doctors could not deviate from the script. They couldn’t take the risks of being held liable if something were to happen. Instead of educating me on the benefits, risks, and safest techniques to co-sleeping they just reassured me that she should grow out of it in 6 months. In the meantime, minute by minute, I was going crazy! WIC could not cover the formula that was best for her digestive system because it wasn’t on their pre-made lists of covered items. My insurance wouldn’t cover it because it wasn’t FDA approved or on their list of approved nutritional supplies. There was no way I could’ve waited 6 months for this to resolve. Just like a drawbridge, the risk of liability wedged a gap between the providers and myself. It was not about what was most “beneficial” for my individual child. Sticking to the script and a one-size fits all mentality is counterintuitive to the oath. Leaving a baby and his/her parents in distress with a lack of sleep and depleted hope can definitely cause harm. Being in this state for an extended period of time could lead to a mental breakdown and potentially result in abuse of the infant.
I challenge all governing organizations to ban together with parents and legal professionals to begin to figure out how we can preserve the oath, while protecting all parties involved. Do you think this is even possible??? I look forward to hearing from you all. What are some possible solutions to this problem that breaks down the line of communication and the quality of care that is provided? How can we educate, support, and empower people in a holistic, individualized manner without being sued for the choice they decide to pursue?? Let’s Chat!
For additional postings on this topic visit my FB page: crEATe: Family Centered Pediatric Feeding Support Services.