Promoting Egoism in Patient Correspondence

 Posted by on 22 July 2009 at 11:01 pm  Ethics, Health Care
Jul 222009

A patient whose knee MRI I read last week had some questions about the results, and I told her she could contact me via e-mail.

Basically, she was frustrated by her interactions with her other doctors and she also wanted to give me additional details about her prior knee surgeries in case it changed my interpretation. (That information was helpful, but didn’t ultimately change my final opinion).

After several e-mail exchanges, she was both thankful for my replies and apologetic for bothering me.

I then decided to reply with the following pro-egoist preamble in my most recent e-mail to her:

I completely understand how frustrating it can be to have a medical problem without an easy diagnosis. So I empathize with your situation. So don’t apologize for asking questions! This is your body, and ultimately your responsibility. You should never apologize for seeking what’s best for your own life and happiness.

(I then responded to her specific question about the significance of a particular MRI finding.)

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