Friday, July 07, 2006

Rudeness ok for docs, says court

At first glance, you might think this was a story from the National Enquirer, but you'd be wrong. Apparently a New Hampshire physician told an obese patient that she was so fat "only black men would want her." The patient sued.

The judge agreed that the remark was uncalled for, but said that the physician had a right to speak bluntly, writing, "It is nonetheless important ... to ensure that physicians and patients are free to discuss matters relating to health without fear of government reprisal, even if such discussions may sometimes be harsh, rude or offensive to the listener."

Sure, sure--docs have free speech rights the same as the rest of us. But it seems neither professional nor kind. . . . which I think are characteristics we'd like to see in our physicians, no? One hopes that some professional organization will have something more to say to the doc in question.


Chris MacDonald said...

The connection between manners & ethics is an interesting one, which I've written about a little. I think the connection has to be located in patterns of behaviour, and in particular in patters of behaviour that demonstrate disrespect.
See this short article, which I wrote for the Newsletter of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan:
Manners & Ethics: Is it Wrong to be Rude? (
(if you have any trouble downloading, just email me at

Karama said...

This isn't just rude, it's racial/ethnic stereotyping. And it assumes that only having "a black man want you" is necessarily a negative thing.