Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Medical Doctor Pushes Political Agenda with Patients

 

If this story is true, it’s a disgusting abuse of power by a doctor, and worse yet—he’s a Republican. A doctor in Lakeland, FL, apparently makes a practice prior to important elections of promoting Republican candidates. A patient of his, who was receiving injections for chronic pain, described the exchange in this way:

The patient lay on an examination table, semi-clothed and crying, after having just received excruciating injections to help relieve her chronic pain.

At that point, she says, Dr. Tom Porter approached her and asked if she was registered to vote. Though stunned by the unexpected question, she said she was.

‘Republican, I hope,’ Porter responded.

I just looked at him and, I said, ‘That’s personal,’ the patient recalled. ‘So he was like, ‘Well, I hope so,’ and he kind of elaborated a bit about, ‘Democrats are doing nothing but destroying this country,’ and ‘They’re going to destroy our economy, and it’s finally getting better with all the Republicans in office’ . . . and he handed me a piece of paper with everyone he recommended circled on there and told me to take that with me and use it to vote.’

This is reprehensible on so many levels. It is an abuse of power. A doctor should not be engaging in political discourse with a patient, unless discussion is initiated by the patient. When the patient commented about his behavior with his staff, they confirmed, “During the whole election season, he goes crazy every single time.”

When the newspaper inquired with the Florida Board of Medicine, a division of the Florida Department of Health, they responded by email, “This behavior would not violate any of the laws or rules regulating the practice of medicine.”

In contrast, Celia B. Fisher, an expert on medical ethics at Fordham University in New York said his actions were not acceptable:

Fisher, the Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics, said the actions violate ethical norms in multiple ways. She said using appointment time for political advocacy constitutes a ‘boundary violation,’ in which the doctor misuses his role.

Fisher said politicking during appointments could also be considered a conflict of interest, coercion of patients and exercise of undue influence. She noted that a patient is a ‘captive audience’ in the doctor’s office.

Another patient of the doctor’s had a similar experience. He gave her an “information packet, of 10- or 15- page collection of essays expressing his opinions on political issues.”

I know that other people in positions of power promote politics: rabbis, priests, and teachers are known to include political statements in their rhetoric; these actions are also inappropriate and an abuse of power. But a medical doctor speaking politics with a patient in his office—it’s simply unacceptable.

And a Republican, no less.

There are 75 comments.

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  1. Stina Member

    Wait wait wait…

    You mean this is unethical and not normal ???

    Can we just go over all the times Democrats make these exact assumptions with people they work with, for, or care for?

    What is wrong with this exactly?

    • #1
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:06 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Stina (View Comment):

    Wait wait wait…

    You mean this is unethical and not normal ???

    Can we just go over all the times Democrats make these exact assumptions with people they work with, for, or care for?

    What is wrong with this exactly?

    So let me understand, @cm. If they act unethically, we should do the same? I hope you’re not serious.

    • #2
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:09 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. Stina Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Wait wait wait…

    You mean this is unethical and not normal ???

    Can we just go over all the times Democrats make these exact assumptions with people they work with, for, or care for?

    What is wrong with this exactly?

    So let me understand, @cm. If they act unethically, we should do the same? I hope you’re not serious.

    Some are uncomfortable by it (I’m more insulted by the assumption), but I never thought THIS was unethical.

    I have a problem with the authority of godly men making political statements in the pulpit. But a priests duty in the pulpit is dispensing God’s word. That’s a big difference from small talk with your doctor. My priest isn’t asking me how my weekend was from the pulpit, either.

    This guy’s words (and most other professions) just don’t feature the same way.

    Again, when dems have done this to me, I was more insulted by their assumptions because it underlined their belief no one could be a Republican. This guy did exactly what you have been trying to do – dispel the illusion that kind, decent people can’t be Republicans, too, and that there is nothing strange about it.

    A bit lacking in boundaries and appropriateness, but I can understand that’s not very clear with social rules for different classes.

    • #3
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:16 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Stina (View Comment):
    This guy’s words (and most other professions) just don’t feature the same way.

    He’s a doctor talking to a patient in a very vulnerable position! This isn’t just small talk; this is indoctrination! What is a patient, who is at the mercy of the doctor, supposed to do–tell him to shut up? Walk out of the office in the middle of a treatment? I totally disagree, but we can agree to disagree.

    • #4
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:22 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Stina Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    at is a patient, who is at the mercy of the doctor, supposed to do–tell him to shut up?

    Do what we do and ignore?

    Like literally, this has happened to me. Same position (except it was my kid…).

    But the purpose of going to church is to hear the teachings. To ignore is incredibly anti-thetical to my purpose of being there.

    When my doctor provides me information on my health, I’ll listen. But small talk? Meh.

    If he had more time, I’m sure he’d be canvassing his neighborhoods. He just wants to get information out the only way he knows how. I’m not going to fault him for that when liberals literally do the exact same thing and I’m told to get over it.

    • #5
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:29 AM PST
    • Like
  6. GFHandle Member

    I am not sure about the ethics. (But then, I have never seen the professional-client relationship in quite the same way as is now common. To me there is a lot of infantilization in the modern paternalism of the professions. Instead, I see a professional relationship as a relationship between two adults, where one has agreed to care for the interests of the other in some area. I am pre-Foucauld on these matters. Grown ups stay grown ups in my world.)

    I like to chat with my doctors and over the years have gotten friendly with them. We do not talk politics, though. And I would probably not do what that doctor did on the theory that my patient might be uncomfortable, as so many are, with the old American idea of the cracker barrel where everyone has a say. Still, the patient can attack Republicans without much fear that the doctor will therefore commit malpractice. Now THAT would be unethical for sure. (Justs as teachers who in any way denigrate students for political views or treat their own views as givens are unethical.)

    All these “ethics boards” make me very nervous. Socrates long ago showed, proved, demonstrated that those who claim to know what justice is don’t. It is still so.

    As a matter of prudence, though, the doctor should not risk looking like a nut job and keep it “professional,” at least until he knows the patients better and knows which ones it is ok to be human with. And it is very important for the doctor to attack only ideas he finds wrong and not the people who hold them.

    • #6
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:33 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Recalling those white coats and stethoscopes massed on the White House lawn not so long ago, SQ. It’s part of the landscape now…

    • #7
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:42 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As a therapist, I don’t talk about my politics with clients (when I had them). As a CEO I did not talk politics with clients or most staff. As a Consultant I don’t talk politics at all. 

    Bad for business. 

    • #8
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:44 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I am also not particularly outraged. 

    • #9
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:46 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  10. Blondie Thatcher

    @gfhandle, I agree with you. Not sure about unethical, but I’d say the exam room isn’t the time or place for this discussion unless you are “palzy” outside the doctor’s office. I cringe when my patients and/or their families want to talk politics for 2 reasons. If they lean liberal I have to just nod my head politely, bite my tongue and get out of the room as fast as I can. If they lean conservative, I end up spending too much time in there and have to find an excuse to get out. Haha! I never bring it up.

    • #10
    • November 9, 2018, at 7:49 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  11. Nohaaj Coolidge

    Hmm, put into context with teachers and professors from K thru grad school all indoctrinating children in leftist propaganda, I am not so enraged by this doctor’s behavior. 

     

    • #11
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Bob Thompson Member

    Is it ok for a doctor to express to a patient the doctor’s views of the effects of government policy and laws on the practice of medical care?

    • #12
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. PHenry Member

    I think it is inappropriate.

    So if your doctor does something you find inappropriate, why is he still your doctor? 

    If a doctor chooses to run his practice as a political entity, that is his practice and his choice. If you don’t like it, or think it inappropriate or unethical, you should find a better doctor. 

    I would. In fact, a while back when my doctor chose to discuss the ‘health aspects of guns in my home’, I respectfully declined to discuss it and found a new doctor.

    • #13
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  14. Henry Racette Contributor

    Yes, it’s unprofessional — though pretty benign, as unprofessional behavior goes: I’m sure a lot of physicians have a lot of bad habits that would upset me more. Let’s face it, doctors are a peculiar lot. (No offense intended to the handful of peculiar doctors here.)

    In a better, vanished time, the family doctor was a cranky, tired, opinionated man who probably smoked and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He couldn’t type, didn’t operate a computer, knew his patients well, and made house calls. He spent more time doctoring and less time complying with meaningful use and quality of care mandates in order to avoid being dinged by one or another government payment scheme. A lot has changed.

    But they’ve always been peculiar.

    • #14
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:16 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. Henry Racette Contributor

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    As a therapist, I don’t talk about my politics with clients (when I had them). As a CEO I did not talk politics with clients or most staff. As a Consultant I don’t talk politics at all.

    Bad for business.

    Agreed. I’m about as cantankerous and politically incorrect as a fellow gets, but I don’t talk politics with clients — except for the handful whom I know share my views.

    • #15
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:18 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  16. danok1 Member

    Susan Quinn:

    In contrast, Celia B. Fisher, an expert on medical ethics at Fordham University in New York said his actions were not acceptable:

    Fisher, the Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics, said the actions violate ethical norms in multiple ways. She said using appointment time for political advocacy constitutes a ‘boundary violation,’ in which the doctor misuses his role.

    Fisher said politicking during appointments could also be considered a conflict of interest, coercion of patients and exercise of undue influence. She noted that a patient is a ‘captive audience’ in the doctor’s office.

    For some reason, I expect Ms. Fisher is A-OK with doctors asking patients if they have firearms in the house.

    In both cases, the patient’s reply should be, “That’s none of your business!”

    If the doctor persists, the next thing the patient should say is, “I think I’m going to find another doctor. This appointment is over.”

     

    • #16
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:20 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  17. The Reticulator Member

    My dentist talks politics with me a lot. He’s kind of libertarian and we agree on a lot of things, so he probably gets more into it with me than with others. But sometimes he talks loudly with me when there are other patients around, too. When I’m in a position where I can’t talk because of equipment in my mouth he expresses his opinions to his assistant. He doesn’t seem to care. 

    • #17
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:40 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Ron Selander Member

    Susan,

    I like the first word of your post.

    • #18
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:58 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Old Buckeye Member

    I know my hairdresser’s politics are 180 degrees different from mine, so I don’t ever bring up political subjects, lest I leave with a shaved head or purple hair. 

    • #19
    • November 9, 2018, at 8:58 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  20. Doctor Robert Member

    I never mention politics with patients, never ever.

    This because politics divides people. I work to help people.

    The Doc in the story is probably pissed off up to here with how medicine has been ruined by the left. I understand this (O-care bankrupted my private practice) but I do not condone his advocacy.

    • #20
    • November 9, 2018, at 9:01 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Thanks all for comments so far. I must say I’m surprised. I wonder what would make a doctor’s action unethical? There are some obvious actions–like inappropriately touching a patient. But what things could a doctor say that would be unethical?

    Also, I think this makes Republicans look bad. I think he acts like a jerk, quite frankly. And yes, I have had doctors with whom I’ve spoken politics after knowing them a while. But I’ve never had one speak this kind of propaganda.

    Finally, do you all disagree with the description of the ethicist?

    • #21
    • November 9, 2018, at 9:11 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    I never mention politics with patients, never ever.

    This because politics divides people. I work to help people.

    The Doc in the story is probably pissed off up to here with how medicine has been ruined by the left. I understand this (O-care bankrupted my private practice) but I do not condone his advocacy.

    Thanks, @doctorrobert. I think we agree.

    • #22
    • November 9, 2018, at 9:12 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. WI Con Member
    WI ConJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Is it ok for a doctor to express to a patient the doctor’s views of the effects of government policy and laws on the practice of medical care?

    I’ve had a couple really good discussions with several physicians about the ACA from the time it was as still being debate till just a couple years ago. I appreciated it but I was the one asking. I think it would have been off putting the other way but must also note that some of the questions asked by the kid’s pediatrician (though I’m sure required by law), are rather assuming and offensive (guns, sex, abuse).

    • #23
    • November 9, 2018, at 9:51 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. Annefy Member

    Huh. 

    The first time it happened to me I was at the gynecologist; no further details required I hope. It was a story I told because I found it funny – never even dawned on me to complain to someone. 

     

    • #24
    • November 9, 2018, at 9:53 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. Annefy Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Thanks all for comments so far. I must say I’m surprised. I wonder what would make a doctor’s action unethical? There are some obvious actions–like inappropriately touching a patient. But what things could a doctor say that would be unethical?

    Also, I think this makes Republicans look bad. I think he acts like a jerk, quite frankly. And yes, I have had doctors with whom I’ve spoken politics after knowing them a while. But I’ve never had one speak this kind of propaganda.

    Finally, do you all disagree with the description of the ethicist?

     

    Not sure. But I file it under “first world problems”.

    • #25
    • November 9, 2018, at 9:55 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  26. Stad Thatcher

    The only time my doctor ever said anything political to me was after Obamacare was passed. He said, “The average person has no idea what’s coming.” And he meant it in a highly negative sense.

    I can guess what he’d say about “Medicare For All” . . .

    • #26
    • November 9, 2018, at 9:57 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  27. WI Con Member
    WI ConJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    My dentist talks politics with me a lot. He’s kind of libertarian and we agree on a lot of things, so he probably gets more into it with me than with others. But sometimes he talks loudly with me when there are other patients around, too. When I’m in a position where I can’t talk because of equipment in my mouth he expresses his opinions to his assistant. He doesn’t seem to care.

    I’m guessing he supports “drill baby drill?”

    • #27
    • November 9, 2018, at 10:00 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  28. MarciN Member

    For a doctor to increase a patient’s anxiety goes against everything I know about alleviating pain. I cannot imagine a doctor making a patient more anxious in course of having to give her painful injections.

    I read a wonderful book a few years ago on innovation at the Mayo Clinic: Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast. The book is written for all types of organizations that are seeking lasting and productive change, but the stories about the lengths that the Mayo Clinic has gone to in trying to grasp how it feels to be a patient so they could improve the patient’s experience are inspiring. It is a simple fact of life for the Mayo Clinic that their patients need to feel at ease in the hospital setting for healing to come about.

    I think doctors should feel free to discuss politics with their patients. But could they wait until we are all dressed and sitting up, please? :-)

    • #28
    • November 9, 2018, at 10:06 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. Henry Racette Contributor

    Regarding dentists: there are a handful of people you don’t want to antagonize, and dentists are among them. Waiters, barbers, and wives are in that group as well.

    • #29
    • November 9, 2018, at 10:07 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  30. Stad Thatcher

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Regarding dentists: there are a handful of people you don’t want to antagonize . . . wives are in that group as well.

    Especially when they have their CWP . . .

    • #30
    • November 9, 2018, at 10:09 AM PST
    • Like

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