Tuesday, December 15, 2009

That stethoscope doesn't make you right

Chris Selley:

The Toronto Star's Catherine Porter thinks poverty alleviation outweighs medical ethics and has no problem with doctors deliberately misdiagnosing welfare recipients with afflictions that will top up their monthly payments. Think of that what you will — one shouldn't read the Star if one doesn't want to encounter logic-deprived activist journalism.

The real kicker in this piece, though, is her interview with Dr. Roland Wong, who's currently under investigation for precisely the sort of actions Porter's advocating. His defence, in a nutshell: What is a "diagnosis," anyway, in this mixed up world we're living in?

"Chronic constipation — who can define it, except me?" he asks. "Soya allergy — it's not a clear medical condition. I do the best to my abilities. If they lie to me, I can't change that. I have to trust the patient to a certain extent."

Not that there aren't a ton of misdiagnosed food allergies out there, but I think Dr. Wong will find soy allergy is very much a "clear medical condition." One is either allergic to soy or one isn't — a determination your friendly neighbourhood allergist will be happy to make, on OHIP's dime, assuming you've been referred to him by, say, Dr. Wong. If Dr. Wong wishes to remain Dr. Wong, as opposed to simply Poverty Activist Wong, I think he might want to stop talking to the media.