Friday, April 01, 2005

And the April Fool's Day Activist Doctor of 2005 is . . .

. . . The Bad Doctor Frist

We here at the Tennessee Guerilla Women blog feel it is our responsibility to keep an eye on the activist doctor from Tennessee. We fear that other doctors may soon follow the Frist example, especially since Dr. Frist has gotten so many new patients as a result of his precedent-setting venture into the new field of long-distance diagnosis.

Roll Call (subscription only) reports: "The Senate’s top doctor, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), has many new and unwanted patients. Over the past several days, they’ve been bombarding Frist’s office with e-mails, describing their ailments, some of them pretty gnarly, and begging for a diagnosis."

If like millions and millions of Americans, you can’t afford to go to the doctor, Drive Democracy still has the details on how you too can request a diagnosis from the long-distance doctor. Since America can’t afford to offer its citizens healthcare, like all the other democracies do, we may be forced to resort to the activist doctor’s practice.

Drive Democracy advises: "Take a digital picture or video of your medical problem – tennis elbow, acne, runny nose, gout, or whatever ails you – and send it to the Doctor in charge of the US Senate and your health care."

Dr. Frist may soon have more new patients than even he can diagnose. Tennessee’s Governor (D-LOL) is set to eliminate 327,000 Tennesseans from the state’s health care plan for the poor (the sickest are to be cut first!).

Obviously they should contact Dr. Frist immediately.

The political doctor has gotten so much criticism for his long-distance diagnosis that he has been lying low. And why not? Congress now faces its lowest approval rating in nearly a decade.

It’s certainly not like Senator Frist to shun the media, in fact, Daily Howler has noted that “Senate employees, from both parties [have] joked that the Tennessee senator is never far from the spotlight.”

Spokespersons for the not-so-good doctor insist he wasn’t really making a long-distance diagnosis when he proclaimed from the Senate floor:

"I close this evening
speaking more as a physician than as a U.S. senator. . . There seems to be insufficient information to conclude that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state. I don't see any justification in removing hydration and nutrition."

"I question it based on a review of the video footage. ... And that footage, to me, depicted something very different than persistent vegetative state."

While Frist has an army of spokeswomen and men issuing imaginative excuses, an army of physicians and ethicists have gone on record with the view that the activist doctor did indeed make a long-distance diagnosis.

Physicians, Ethicists, & Others Who Condemn Dr. Frist's Long-Distance Diagnosis

In support of our assertion that Dr. Senator Frist is the April Fools Day Activist Doctor of 2005, we offer the following as evidence:

"For people who are heart surgeons or obstetricians to weigh in on a piece of videotape and say they can tell something about the diagnosis of Terri Schiavo, it's irresponsible. It's putting politics before medical judgment. They know better than to be doing that." -- Arthur Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania

"The man is a physician, and as a physician, he ought to have better professional responsibility than to make a diagnosis without evaluating her." --William J. Winslade, bioethicist and law professor at the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

"In general, physicians would consider it unprofessional for doctors to take clinical stands on issues without adequate clinical data." --Dr. Neil Wenger, head of the ethics committee at UCLA Medical Center

"It just looked so craven. He's taken an incredible beating for his 'diagnosis,' and I think he has been diminished by it." --Thomas Mann, congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution

"[I]t's disturbing that doctors who would never venture a comment about the health of anybody from a homemade video are sitting on the floor of Congress making declarations. [They have] subverted what they know to be good medicine for the aim of achieving a political goal." --Art Caplan, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Frist’s long-distance diagnosis makes him look like a "run of the mill" politician. --Prof. Bruce Oppenheimer, Vanderbilt University, political science

“[Frist] should turn in his doctor's badge." -- Stuart Youngner, chair of the department of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University

"For Dr. Frist to make a statement like that - it's like me making an off-the-cuff statement about a heart transplant patient.” --Michael Williams, neurologist at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore and chairman of the ethics committee of the American Academy of Neurology

"It is extremely unusual - and by a non-neurologist, I might add." --Laurie Zoloth, director of bioethics for the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University

"It's quackery. It'd be hilarious if it weren't so grotesque, how his presidential ambitions and pandering to the right wing is clashing with his life's work." -- Jim Jordan, Democratic strategist

“For Sen. Frist to say he could make a diagnosis based on a videotape is certainly not medically sound. I wouldn't want my doctor making any diagnosis of me on videotape." --Dr. Howard Dean

We weren’t the only feminist bloggers whose thoughts turned to the activist doctor on April Fool’s Day. Feminist Bias also has some April Fool’s Day thoughts on the not-so-good doctor.

And as a parting thought, Billmon at Whiskey Bar suggests an appropriate new campaign slogan for the bad doctor: "I'm not a quack, but I played one on television . . ."