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Bill Frist Needs To See Your Boogers
He spoke to the Senate about the Schiavo case, "more as a physician than a senator," reports

Frist said he believed there was “insufficient information to conclude that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state."

He didn’t even need to examine the tragic Florida woman who has been fed artificially since she was brain damaged in 1990 -- he just looked at her on videotape.

Now, the LA Times reports that "critics say the majority leader...overstepped in giving an opinion on Terri Schiavo’s condition." Apparently it’s a bio-ethical no-no to diagnosis a patient you’ve never seen. And some people say it’s arrogant for Dr. Frist to involve the U.S. Congress in the personal medical decisions of one family just to suck up to the religious right before the 2008 presidential primaries.

But we say, think of the opportunity!

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.

Tell Dr. Frist you want him to diagnose it and get Congress to pass a law prescribing treatment.

Email and snail mail addresses to send your achy breaky photographic evidence to at the link above.

Posted by aalkon at March 25, 2005 4:57 AM


I'm trying to get out of the house right now, and I'm generally not eager to defend Bill Frist, but I have a couple of reservations about this piece:

"Apparently it’s a bio-ethical no-no to diagnosis a patient you’ve never seen."

1) Saying that there is “insufficient information to conclude that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state" is not equivalent to making a diagnosis.

2) What about telemedicine? Clinical consultations (including diagnoses) are being made across phonelines and video monitors as we speak.

Posted by: Lena at March 25, 2005 9:34 AM

Challenging a diagnosis is equivalent to making a diagnosis, because you're saying what it is NOT - which is itself a medical conclusion. It is unethical to draw this type of conclusion without reviewing pertinent tests, medical records and reports.

Frist was apparently relying on a report by a conservative Christian doctor with an agenda who says he thinks Terri Schiavo was misdiagnosed - and geez, a hired gun professional who says what you want in litigation - now that's obviously a reliable source. That's okay if Frist is speaking solely as a politician - it's unethical if he's speaking as a doctor.

Telemedicine is different because the doctor is consulting with another health professional, and has the benefit of that person's first-hand observations. Even then, the ethical "remote doc" isn't going to render an opinion without reviewing the tests and records - something Frist wouldn't dispense with if he were actually involved in treatment decisions (and subject to malpractice claims), instead of just pontificating.

Posted by: Melissa at March 25, 2005 11:45 AM

Challenging a diagnosis is not making a diagnosis. It's making a disagreement. A diagnosis is always accompanied by ICD-9 code and a bill for services.

Posted by: Lena at March 25, 2005 4:41 PM

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