Monday, February 09, 2009

More On Jeni Barnett

Further to my last post about Ms Barnett, one of her prime complaints was about scaremongering; she did not need to be frightened, she said. scare tactics, she said, were unfair, and un-necessary. I concur, heartily. And yet she happily read out a message from a caller alleging that vaccines have cancer causing chemicals in them. No evidence, no sourcing, just that. When questioned about it, she referred to a previous caller who had said the same thing. And... you can find it on the Internet.

Well that's done me. Irrefutable. Cast iron.

You can find pretty much anything on the Internet. (Barring of course Ms Barnett's broadcast, which her lawyers have made difficult to find...)

That really is on a a par with saying "a bloke down the pub told me..."

Shouldn't we expect better?

She does make a valid point, however. Scare tactics often don't work, and may not be apt. But it begs the question: As your doctor, should I conceal the truth from you, so as not to scare you?

She mentioned a couple of examples. She referenced a doctor telling her her daughter, who had had recurrent ear infections, would die if she didn't use an inhaler. Whatever one thinks of the veracity of this tale, and I would at the very least suggest the diagnosis was something over and above an ear infection, don't we, as doctors, have a duty to tell the facts?

If I think someone will die without treatment, surely I must tell them?

The alternative might be a mother grieving over the corpse of a child wailing "no-one told me it was this serious..."

Yes, we are sometimes hamfisted, poor communicators. But don't you deserve the truth, even when it's a bit frightening?

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