Monday, January 11, 2021

A Doctor Finds in the Covid-19 Era Judging Patients' Decisions Comes Easier Than It Should

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Science and Society
Ed Hessler

When patients who are suspected/likely to be COVID-19 spreaders the motivation to spend time with a family s/he hasn't seen in months often clouds their judgement. "Love--not selfishness--(blinds their ability" to recognize that "they could become a threat to  their health and the health of others." Emergency physician Jay Baruch (Alpert Medical School Program in Clinical Arts and Humanities, Brown University) recounts a patient who has made him think differently about such patients.

In this essay from STAT, Baruch writes that he is "learning that it's laziness to judge their behavior, to assume they're selfish or unwilling to sacrifice personal comforts for the greater good." Telling such patients  it's ridiculously dangerous for (them) to get on (a plane is something "they already know.. Educating (them) about COVID-19 requires more than knowledge about the virus and protective measures against it. Scientific evidence isn't enough."

Baruch continues, "The coronavirus, for all its lethality and social destruction, isn't the only big problem in many of my patient's lives. It's one of many. Patients make decisions for reasons that aren't' immediately clear to outsiders." Decisions are often made "in the context of a life and the body.."  

In the thick, heat, uncertainty, intensity, exhausting days and the steady onslaught of treating COVID-19 patients, Baruch looks ahead as he explores the current territory. He writes "I'm trying to withhold judgment as hard as it may be, and understand what motivates these actions. Because when COVID-19 is finally behind us...parsing out the questions of 'why' with a little more sensitivity and clarity will be necessary for building a healthier society."
Baruch did his undergraduate in English (Union College, Schenectady, NY) and in one of his bios at Brown University, writes "I'm passionate about the humanities in particular as a lens for thinking critically." In this essay this is demonstrated. One of the ways humanities can contribute to our thinking is by consideration of context.

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