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REDRESS OR REGRESS?
Given below is an excerpt from a recent Commentary published in THE HURON, dated September 24, 1991
ZERO TOLERANCE: SIGNS OF
A NEW REIGN OF TERROR?
by Jayne Ostenn
The delicate relations between physicians and patients appear to be in grave jeopardy if recent trends continue. Physicians have been charged with a variety of offences broadly classed as sexual abuses. Attempts to streamline procedures to control what appears to be a pervasive practice have raised concerns. Dr. Colleen Clements writing in The Medical Post, September 24, argues that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) should have thought twice before sponsoring the Task Force on the Sexual Abuse of Patients. She is incensed at the hanging judge approach advocated by the task force. "The CPSO Task Force has entered the murky field of human sexuality and late 20th century feminism." She feels that the expressions used such as "zero tolerance" are "inherently unfair" and "the political correctness of this crusade seems to have gotten in the way of good sense, good ethics and good law and medicine." She notes that "the traditional standards of the legal system may not be perfect, but they do protect us from Kafkaesque ministries." These comments raise the spectre of a "New Reign Of Terror" with Madame Defarges running rampant denouncing physicians for sidelong glances or trifling comments. I asked a few of my more ardent feminist friends for their views. "What do you expect?" they asked, "These folks have been on their Power Trips for so long that they hate to see any challenges to their authority." A less strident note came from an older lady who chose to remain anonymous. "I have had a wonderful relation with my physician for twenty years. He has been friend, philosopher and guide through lots of troubles. He may have made a few "suspect" comments, but so what? I would hate to see that relation disturbed to correct a few mistakes. I'd rather be managed by a person than a soulless computer." Certainly the situation is complex and will not be helped by reflex ideological posturing on both sides. Given the temper of the times it is unlikely, however, that Sense and Sensibility will prevail over the Politically Correct but Mentally Bankrupt.
Jayne Ostenn is a writer and social commentator.
This problem was written in the format of a newspaper clipping. I was interested in focusing discussion on physician-patient interactions, dimensions of sexual abuse of patients by physicians, the grievance procedures available and the larger issue of the impact of feminism in health care.
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