COVID-19 Pandemic Panic Deprives Patients and Threatens Physicians

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Who would have imagined that in time of a pandemic, government would shut down access to all but “essential” medical care, while clinics sat empty, asks San Antonio ophthalmologist Kristin S. Held, M.D., president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

Violation of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order to refrain from all but emergency services carried a penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, plus restriction or suspension of one’s medical license, she writes in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The Texas Medical Board has aggressively pursued physicians and surgeons who dared to operate on patients they thought needed urgent surgery, she reports—and most doctors would agree that compound fractures or ruptured tendons are likely to have a bad outcome if not repaired immediately. Practices already struggling to stay afloat are facing hefty legal fees because doctors took care of their patients.

Licensing boards may also threaten doctors who dare to prescribe, or pharmacists who dare to dispense hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for COVID-19—a time-tested, affordable, and widely available medicine, she writes.

The COVID-19 guidelines being cited by local authorities were developed by entrenched federal bureaucracies that failed to prepare for a pandemic and then relied on flawed computer models that grossly overestimated the number of deaths, Dr. Held writes. Then, instead of seeking the aid of physicians’ skills and expertise, the authorities marginalized and demonized them.

How can we overcome the problems that COVID-19 has shown? We must put “patients over politics, and freedom over fear,” Dr. Held concludes. “We must not allow an ‘abundance of caution’ on behalf of elected leaders to morph into a lack of common sense, or worse, acquiescence to loss of civil liberties and life itself. We must develop an immunity to fear, hysteria, panic, and politics.”

Read Article: https://jpands.org/vol25no2/held.pdf