August 31, 2005 at 10:36 am
Oh wow, Dr. Terry Bennett seems to be campaigning hard for the Asshole Doctor of the Year award. I blogged about Dr. Bennett’s general cluelessness and arrogance earlier. Turns out that in addition to telling a fat woman that men would be disgusted by her if she tried dating again after her husband died, he also said she might only be able to attract black men. Oh horror of horrors! How dare those Negros even look at our women! Someone organize a lynching!
Seriously though, how can Dr. Bennett not see that these remarks are out of line? My only guess is that he thinks he’s giving people ‘tough love’ when in fact he’s only revealing his own biases and probably demoralizing his patients.
People come to doctors when they are most vulnerable, when they are sick and their health is in danger. We tell doctors intimate details about our bodies that few other people know. Really, when was the last time anyone discussed their bowel habits with a stranger outside of an Imodium AD commercial? It is thus essential to engender an environment of trust and respect between doctor and patient so there can be a free flow of information and good communication. Dr. Bennett violated this unspoken covenant by being unnecessarily cruel to those who looked to him for help.
Even if he has a million studies to back up his callous comments, it doesn’t make them any less inappropriate or ineffective. People generally do not respond well to negative reinforcement (i.e. torture is a notoriously ineffective way to gather information). It’s as if Dr. Bennett believes he can cure the obesity problem by just giving fat people a good talking to. I wish it were that easy, but it’s not. If it were, we could all grab a partner and have the obesity epidemic cured by this weekend. If Dr. Bennett would learn some tact and positively reinforce his patients instead of beating them down, both sides would stand a better chance of winning the war on weight.
Article is after the jump.
N.H. Doctor in Hot Seat Again Over Remarks
By J.M. HIRSCH, Associated Press WriterTue Aug 30, 7:40 PM ET
The state is investigating a doctor accused of telling a patient she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men and advising another to shoot herself following brain surgery.
“Let’s face it, if your husband were to die tomorrow, who would want you?” the state Board of Medicine says Dr. Terry Bennett told the overweight patient in June 2004.
“Well, men might want you, but not the types you want to want you. Might even be a black guy,” it quoted him as saying, based on the woman’s complaint.
The board said it also is taking a second look at a 2001 allegation — deemed unfounded at the time — that Bennett told a woman recovering from brain surgery to buy a pistol and shoot herself to end her suffering.
Bennett made national news last week when the complaint from the obese woman became public without any mention of the racial comment. But Senior Assistant Attorney General Richard Head, who leads the state Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau, said Tuesday the woman complained about the racial remark, not about being lectured.
In a telephone interview Tuesday from Rochester, Bennett denied any wrongdoing and defended his message to her, saying he has read polls that say black men prefer overweight women.
Bennett added that he is angry the board is reconsidering the 2001 complaint.
“That patient is currently in a nursing home completely demented, tied to a chair drooling on herself and doesn’t recognize anybody,” said Bennett, 67. “She was in pretty nearly that condition at the time she filed that complaint.”
Bennett’s lawyer, Charles Douglas, said his client is being attacked by the board, which, by its own rules, does not discipline doctors for bedside manner.
“If a patient does not like the message, go to another doctor,” Douglas said.
Head said the 2001 complaint is being considered as part of a review of Bennett’s overall adherence to medical ethics. The state Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau investigates complaints against doctors, though the board decides how to act on them.
Head said privacy laws prevent him from disclosing the women’s names.
The board can fine, reprimand or suspend doctors. It also can revoke doctors’ licenses or require them to attend classes or treatment. A hearing is planned Dec. 7.
Earlier this year, Bennett rejected an effort by the board to resolve the latest complaint. The board wanted him to admit he had made a mistake and to attend a class on medical ethics, which he called “touchy-feely school.”
Bennett previously was cited by the board in 1995 when, as part of a settlement to avoid discipline, he admitted lying on his 1992 and 1993 medical license renewal applications about being denied hospital privileges. He was fined $1,000.