If Doctors tell lies, then what is MSNBC doing?

  • Posted on: Feb 9 2012
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So I have a few things to say on this article below, but I would like to point out that MSNBC.com once again has published a false and misleading title to an article. See the picture below.

I’ve highlighted the misleading title in yellow, “Most docs tell white lies, study finds.” But, let’s look at the actual article:

So even the title changes from “Most” to “Many” but what does many mean? Most means over 50% of docs tell white lies, but many could mean any number. The actual number? 11%. Or just about 1 in 10 physicians told what they considered to be a white lie to a patient in 2011.

There are about 750,000 physicians in the US. Of them, about 667,500 or so told the truth to patients all of last year. On it’s title page, MSNBC.com implies that at least 325,001 were telling lies. Or close to 4x more than the actual number.

I may be making mountains out of mole hills here, but if you want to have a provocative, attention-grabbing headline accusing others of dishonesty, it seems that perhaps your own report should be honest.

Nevertheless, I would like to acknowledge my agreement that no mistake should be withheld from a patient. If a mistake is made by a physician, I believe moral, ethical, and patient advocacy values compel disclosure of those errors.

At the Ear Nose & Throat Centers of Texas, we acknowledge that we are not perfect. We acknowledge that we make mistakes. And if we know of an error made in your care, we will endeavor to disclose it and provide the best possible care to correct it.

Dr. Brian Goldman, an ER physician, gave a superb discussion of physician mistakes in the following TED talk. It might surprise you to hear what he has to say, but it probably won’t surprise most docs, unless, maybe, we’re one of the 11%.

–Richard D. Thrasher III, MD

Posted in: Controversial Medicine, General Medical, Interesting Stuff

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