Whether for good or bad, many things are happening within healthcare that will greatly affect every aspect of the doctor/patient relationship in the US (and, possibly, the world).
The introduction of the so-called “Obamacare” healthcare program, for example, introduced a great number of changes with far-reaching, long term ramifications. To complicate things further, more changes were introduced after the Trump administration took over. What changes will yet another administration (assuming Trump can’t win a second term) bring into the picture? Clearly, it’s anyone’s guess!
In the relatively-more-stable past, doctors were almost exclusively in charge of major healthcare decisions (at least, on a person-by-person basis) but, now, these decisional power grids are being shared by insurance companies, government agencies, licensing boards, administrative personnel, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.
In other words, many of the decisions doctors make today are being influenced by much more than what conventional medical wisdom dictates.
Having said this, doctors occupy a very unique place in society in that they not only provide medical advice and guidance but are often expected (by the government, the AMA, doctors themselves, etc.) to look after the welfare of people who cannot otherwise advocate for themselves--one such group being “children."
ARE PARENTS TRULY “IN CHARGE” OF THEIR KIDS THESE DAYS?
As far as providing food and shelter, parents are in charge. From then on, the question becomes somewhat nebulous, at least from the perspective of the government and "experts" who today seem to feel constrained to usurp the authority of parents.
As far as some people in high-places are concerned, in fact, parents need to be supervised and controlled, almost as if they were viewed themselves as "children."
Needless to say, there are many people who with good reasons reject this presumptuous-arrogant paternalistic paradigm; then again, there are many parents who welcome or, at the very least, willingly tolerate these constraints, almost as if they don’t trust their own judgment or feel a need to defend their right to have primary authority over their offspring.
WHAT ROLE SHOULD YOU EXPECT YOUR DOCTOR TO PLAY?
The bottom line is this: all parents need to make up their minds about what power and authority they are willing, ready and able to surrender to their physicians. Then again, physicians, for their part, may have their own ideas as to what role they feel compelled to play.
What is the ideal role of a doctor? Some people would say that doctors are merely advisors, health experts who can help everyone make the best healthcare choices for their loved ones. This role, however, appears to assume a more intense tone in regard to children.
If a doctor tells you that your child needs "X" number of vaccines for specified stages in your child's life, should you just automatically go along with this advice? And should you ignore the health experts that think that kids (especially infants) receive too many vaccines at too early an age?
In other words, are you supposed to blindly trust whatever your doctor says at all times, either about vaccines or about any other recommended medical regimen or strategy?
Without questioning that your doctor may be an expert in his/her field, isn't the responsibility for your child's welfare primarily on your shoulders? If the child dies, who's going to grieve the most for him/her?
To be even more blunt, who's going to pay for the burial, and, if the child ends up with serious medical complications as a result of whatever medical decision was made, who pays for the ongoing, sometimes humongous, medical expenses?
Perhaps more importantly, who’s going to have to stick around 24/7 to console these children, feed & clothe them, and if they become totally incapacitated, wipe their behinds and clean up after them?
As a general rule, the person with primary authority/responsibility is (or should be) also the person who faces the brunt of the consequences of any decisions made.
Of course, doctors can face disciplinary or legal action if they engage in negligence, incompetence or malfeasance but that's altogether another matter involving ancillary issues—i.e., risks of the healthcare trade, business/liability insurance coverage and professional competency/responsibility than with a personal interest in or commitment to the child as a unique human being.
HOW MUCH POWER ARE YOU WILLING TO RELEGATE TO YOUR DOCTOR?
Incredible as it may sound, it all comes down to how much power you are willing to relinquish. Make no mistake: doctors can easily be described as “imperious,” passionate individuals that simply cannot do their jobs right by being namby-pamby or too compromising.
For sure, medicine (like the military and law enforcement) appears to work best (at least in the eyes of some individuals) if it’s run more like a dictatorship than a democracy.
This is especially evident for anyone who has worked in or been assigned to an Emergency Room, especially in a busy urban setting. Healthcare personnel in such settings have to make split-second decisions which can often mean the difference between life or death.
Such settings don't work too well if every decision is questioned and examined closely before it is implemented.
Unfortunately, this same mentality (the assumption that decisions work best when not questioned) is often taken out of ER settings and applied to everyday life, especially regarding children and what they need from healthcare.
For the most part, people have accepted this dictatorship paradigm, most notably because they truly believe that all doctors know best, always have the patients' best interest in mind and can do the most good when they face the least amount of interference.
Critics of our medical system would say, however, that these beliefs aren’t necessarily grounded in reality but are, instead, for the most part, presumptuous “assumptions.”
WHY CHILDREN PRESENT A “UNIQUE” SITUATION
Like it or not, the reasons why doctors are expected to keep a special eye on children are the same ones that may be brought up for why kids are especially vulnerable to potentially bad decisions by doctors. Because they can’t fend for themselves, children also can’t ascertain whether what is being done to them is:
- absolutely necessary,
- the best of all available options
- and something with benefits and pros that outweigh the risks and the cons.
This is where YOU must assertively insert yourself into the picture, not as a submissive, blindly-trusting and naïve “middle person,” but rather as a well-informed, questioning, alert, critically-thinking, somewhat cynical and healthily skeptical protector, mentor and guardian.
You can always get a second opinion (if you are the one getting medical treatment) or, if things go wrong, hire a personal injury/medical malpractice attorney. Children, however, can’t avail themselves of these “rights” and “privileges.”
Of course, if it turns out that you are being unreasonable (such as by not agreeing to a perfectly-safe type of treatment option, not because there is scientific reasons for your objections, but merely because of a personal “whim” on your part), then the courts can always compel you to see the light.
While the courts themselves (like doctors) can be wrong or conflicted in some way, perhaps a child’s best interests can sometimes be served if there are monitoring tools to make sure that you as a parent are indeed looking out for the child to the best of your abilities.
Not even this, though, changes the fact that you should be the last line of defense, when it comes to the welfare of your child . . . and this is a privilege that shouldn’t be interfered with or abrogated unless it can be proven (beyond a reasonable doubt) that you are being an unfit or irresponsible parent.
WHO’S MORE LIKELY TO FIGHT FOR A CHILD’S BEST INTERESTS, A PARENT OR A DOCTOR?
In sharp contrast to the many people that go along with (or downright gladly embrace—maybe because they’re insecure “sycophants?”) the paternalistic and dictatorial paradigms that doctors have enjoyed (perhaps for too long?), your emphasis should be on doing what is best for your kids.
How well you accomplish this, though, shouldn’t be determined or judged merely by the people whose job it is to support and assist your efforts.
Notwithstanding their medical expertise, doctors make mistakes just like everyone else and, what’s worse, they have been known to push or espouse initiatives and treatment plans that can ultimately be harmful or, at best, of questionable value to children (and family members).
Some of the egregious mistakes and potentially harmful decisions, critics argue, that prove doctors aren’t merely by virtue of being health experts in a good position to pass judgment on other people or to necessarily always make wiser decisions than parents/guardians include:
- The ubiquitous misuse/overuse of antibiotics,
- wrongly blaming the Zika virus for an increase of microcephaly that was most probably caused by the irresponsible use of insecticides in drinking water in Brazil,
- the blatant over-prescription (sometimes for the sake of heinous, illicit financial gain) of painkillers,
- pushing a national, highly-profitable (to the pharmaceutical companies) vaccine program which many experts have with good reasons questioned or downright condemned,
- childishly feeling threatened by well-informed consumers that are often not as gullible and conforming as patients used to be in the past (and, sadly, still are in many cases),
- refusing to join with groups fighting to prove that most of our chronic disease epidemics and pandemics are being deliberately inflicted through the use of water fluoridation, Chemtrails, toxic chemicals in our food and water, excessive exposure to ionizing radiation, etc.,
- participating (even if merely through tacit acceptance by a very few conscientious physicians) in the crazy and irresponsibly harmful war against natural herbs, vitamins and medical treatments,
- acceptance of, if not direct participation in, the heinous deaths (or what some people are calling “murders”) of many holistic and alternative medicine physicians,
- acceptance of, if not direct participation in, the uncalled-for and totally unjustified war against chiropractic and naturopathic medicine,
- irresponsibly denying that nutritional deficiencies are the basis/foundation for most chronic diseases,
- irresponsibly pushing medications (regardless of how well they work or what side-effects they impart) that Big Pharma wants to most profit from,
- siding too often with groups (like Big Pharma) from which they get substantial financial compensation in exchange for not telling the public the truth,
- not doing much to “prevent” diseases and, instead, merely treating symptoms,
- participating in (or at least being fully aware of but not bothering to “sound the alarm” about) the suppression of cures for cancer, etc.
Any of these abuses of medical power/authority are reason enough for parents and guardians to NOT blindly trust doctors, either in reference to themselves, or, what’s more important, in regard to vulnerable, unable-to-fend-for-themselves and safer-in-the-hands-of-wary-consumer parents and guardians.
No, doctors are NOT in charge of your children—neither are police officers, nurses, teachers, politicians and, no, not even judges.
While all the probably-but-not-necessarily-well-intended people mentioned here can certainly advocate for the rights of children, it’s not their place to usurp your authority, power or status—unless, of course, there is substantial, verifiable and undeniable evidence that you are not being a responsible, caring, loving, and, yes, well-informed parent or guardian.
That determination, however, should preferably be made by a group of people (e.g., a “jury,” impartial judges, or a panel consisting of different professions) rather than a single, most-probably-financially-conflicted and hardly-omniscient individual with a medical degree.
Copyright, 2018. Fred Fletcher. All rights reserved.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES