Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Woke Medicine Can Be Dangerous to Your Health

When I woke one recent morning to severe pain from a bout of kidney stones, I knew I had an excruciating day ahead of me. I didn’t realize how excruciating until I arrived at George Washington University Hospital’s emergency room where one of the ER’s resident physicians greeted me wearing a pin: “Ask Me About My Pronouns.” The remainder of my morning became a real-life demonstration of how woke physicians prioritize ideology over patient care.

The bloodwork taken upon my arrival showed a high white blood cell count, and during my stay, I complained of pain in both my kidneys. A CT scan taken in the emergency room likewise showed stranding (i.e., scarring) in both kidneys.

The next day, my primary care practitioner grew concerned that a kidney stone had caused an infection that had spread through my urinary tract. She asked me whether I had received intravenous antibiotics in the ER as a precautionary measure; I had not.

For all her outward concern about pronouns, the George Washington resident did not act concerned about a possible infection. She (they?) did not order a urine culture to check for infections, nor send the stone I passed while in the ER for laboratory analysis. She and her supervising physician also questioned the need for a CT scan, which had been standard practice during prior bouts of kidney stones, claiming that a scan would only be needed if I had a blockage or infection — an odd claim, given that I had yet to provide a urine specimen for analysis.

As a health policy analyst, I recognize that over-treating patients can cause complications such as anti-microbial resistance, not to mention raising health care costs for all of us. But when my primary care practitioner, who also happens to moonlight in another emergency room in the nation’s capital, identified basic precautions that the staff at George Washington failed to take, I became concerned not just that I had received poor care, but that the resident’s attire — one button referencing pronouns, another supporting the SEIU affiliate union representing the hospital’s resident physicians — suggested a focus on things other than patient care.

I contacted George Washington University Hospital about the care I received, but its press office did not respond to multiple calls and emails. Had hospital officials responded, I would have asked first why the hospital subjected me to a combination of questionable care and woke propaganda, and second why it billed my insurer nearly $21,000, of which my insurer expects me to pay nearly $3,000, for the privilege of receiving both.

My experience suggests that physicians should heed two lessons. For starters, leave the ideology at home. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, others don’t necessarily want to hear them, particularly in a place like a hospital.

Rather than engage in ostentatious virtue signaling that alienates as much as it attracts, doctors should spend more time listening to patients than talking at them. Ensuring patients feel heard regardless of skin color, political beliefs, and yes, pronouns, will prove far more meaningful than putting a button on one’s scrubs.

I don’t believe that the staff at George Washington University Hospital listened to me and my symptoms, and my experience makes me fear that the low-income patients the hospital treats — the kinds of individuals my ER resident likely wants to help — may suffer from poor care and not even recognize it. Rather than injecting cultural Marxism into medicine in a way that politicizes the entire health care system, perhaps this generation of woke medical students should understand that the best type of social justice involves them simply doing their jobs.

This post was originally published at The Federalist.