Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Dying Patient’s Denial”

Unlabeled pills

The Ethics Quiz last week about the ethical propriety of doctor telling a dying man in denial that he had only a brief time to live sparked many excellent comments, but none better than that of comment wars veteran Dwayne N Zechman.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Dying Patient’s Denial”:


oh . . . Oh . . . OH . . . this one is such an easy call for me that it makes me want to scream.

A Doctor’s Lie Almost Killed Me

A few notes:
– When I was born my mother was already older than was considered advisable to have children at the time.
– I have two older brothers, but I was my mother’s fourth pregnancy. The third ended in miscarriage.
– Because of the various conditions in play and from the examinations and tests they performed, the doctors predicted (incorrectly) that I would be born brain-damaged and mentally retarded and (correctly) that I would be born with life-threatening birth defects.
– Because of the above, the doctor encouraged my parents to abort the pregnancy.

So, as the story goes, (after all, I wasn’t there to witness it myself for obvious reasons) at one point my mother’s doctor gave her some pills and encouraged her to take them. When asked what they were for, he essentially wouldn’t answer.

My parents were suspicious, and decided not to take the pills. Instead, they took the bottle to a different doctor and asked what the medication actually was.

It would something that would have encouraged a miscarriage.

THAT . . . is simply . . . unforgivable.

I’m only here today typing at my computer because my parents had enough skepticism to question the situation and seek the truth (not to be confused with the “truth”).

No doctor has any right to lie to a patient . . . EVER. To do so is to usurp the agency of the patient to have the final say on his or her own medical care and treatment. No doctor has that right.

And sure as fuck no doctor had the right to try to miscarry me without my parents’ informed consent.

P.S. THANK YOU, Mom and Dad. I love you.

5 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Dying Patient’s Denial”

  1. A friend of mine just had an ultrasound a few weeks ago. Doctor told her the baby would have issues. Suggested she abort. She insisted she just had small babies (she is small, her husband is small, and her two other children are small). He said they could do some testing, but he’s never wrong on the issue. She insisted on the testing.

    Guess who was wrong on the issue.

  2. About five years ago I had a minor cardiac episode, not that they ever are. The doctors in the emergency room wanted me to undergo a procedure without first informing my brother as next of kin, once they finally admitted that there actually was some risk to it (which they were reluctant even to tell me). When I insisted on waiting until he could be contacted, they withdrew the offer of doing it – and then falsely stated in the sign off records that I had refused the procedure when I had only wanted a proper preparation for it.

    So I now know that they misrepresent things, in the name of doing what they think in the patient’s interests or of preventing outside input.

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