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    Political correctness’ collateral damage in healthcare

    In all aspects of healthcare, we must be able to listen to, and keep confidential, anything that a patient shares, in whatever form it comes. By the same token, we must be able to communicate frankly and openly with patients conveying the necessary message.


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    This communication must be open and, ideally, assumed to be free of bias and personal insult, on a professional level. Sometimes a physician must speak to a patient in simple, colloquial or even guttural terms to be understood; there’s the rub.…

    On a Saturday afternoon, after my office closed, I received a call from an elderly couple about their medication. The patient’s husband called me to let me know that he couldn’t obtain the patient’s levalbuterol nebulizer solution for her shortness of breath symptom. The patient is 65 years old and has a history of COPD, asthma, obesity, thyroid cancer, hypertension, obesity and poor physical conditioning. I asked for permission to call her pharmacy of choice to try to resolve the problem.


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    I called the big pharmacy chain and asked to speak with the pharmacist, Lisa. I identified myself and the patient and asked for her understanding of the problem. She said that the Medicare server was down and she couldn’t put the medication through. I asked if she would release a three-day supply of the meds to get the patient through the weekend and retry Medicare on Monday. She said that she can’t break open the box of nebulizer single doses as it was against her pharmacy chain policy. 

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    Craig M. Wax, DO
    The author is a family physician in Mullica Hill, NJ.


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