Physicians and patients often face tough and agonizing choices. Sometimes, there are no good options available. On other occasions, there are two seemingly reasonable choices in front of you, but there may be a very different outcome from each pathway. For example, a patient may be advised by a surgeon to submit to the scalpel while the gastroenterologist counsels to opt for another 48 hours hoping that the medical situation will improve. Which physician is correct? They both may be right. If the patient were to deteriorate 24 hours later, then the operation that had been favored by the surgeon would have been the better choice. If, however, the patient were to improve spontaneously a day or two later, then avoiding high risk surgery would be clearly favored.
Physicians make decisions based on knowledge and experience. Often, there is a conflict between knowledge and experience that physicians struggle to resolve. For example, a doctor may have read in a medical study that a medicine is not effective for a particular condition, and yet his personal experience supports the drug’s efficacy. Does he deny his own experience and deny his patient the treatment? And, medical judgement, as I have posted previously, is paramount.
My points above apply to many professions and, indeed, to the life decisions that confront all of us. We draw upon our prior experiences, consult others, engage in due diligence, weigh the options and make the best decisions we can based on what is known or knowable at that moment. A bad outcome may be the result of an excellent decision.
Clinton vs Trump
Choose Your Poison!
The presidential election that is upon us has posed a conundrum for millions of us. Who to choose? I have spoken with several octogenarian patients who have told me that this is the first presidential election that they will not cast a vote for either candidate of the two major political parties. These are not rabblerousing partisans, disgruntled NAFTA haters, culture war mercenaries, anti-immigrants or elderly alt right aficionados. They are among our ‘greatest generation’ who express disgust and disgrace with the electoral choice that has been forced upon them. Imagine how they must feel to have never missed a presidential vote in 60 years, until now.
In my view, no reasonable person can argue that either candidate meets our nation’s highest ideals and values. Making the case that one’s vote is the lesser of two evils is not exactly a rave endorsement of a candidate. And, as is always the case, voters and supporters diminish the flaws of the candidate whose politics they approve of, while magnifying flaws of the same magnitude in the political adversary.
Is not voting for either candidate a defensible and honorable option?