Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nonsense and BS

UPDATE: I clarified in the first paragraph that the homestudy renewal is to keep our eligibility to adopt another child, not to keep Son in our family. Sorry for the confusion. Son is safe and loved no matter what.

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GPop and I were approved to adopt at the end of 2005. In our state, we must renew this "homestudy" every two years. We've been successful parents of Son for almost a year and a half, and our homestudy social worker was very pleased with our home, our parenting skills, and our paperwork. He asked us to complete two final things in order to get our homestudy renewed for two more years so that we could continue to be eligible to adopt more children. We needed to sign up for eight hours of training, such as CPR certification, home safety training, first aid, dealing with difficult children, or other topics. The second item was a simple doctor's statement to say that we were physically fit enough to raise a child. The social worker takes care of the assessment of a person's temperamental and attitudinal capabilities.

GPop got his physical a few days ago from a physician's assistant at our preferred medical facility. For about five years, we've had excellent experiences at this facility. I don't think I've even sat in the waiting room more than ten minutes in five years. The staff always provides prompt, friendly service, and just as importantly, the billing is (so far) always accurate. Their policy is such that they have a rotating doctor on call who will see people today if their usual doctor is unavailable. In that sense, they combine aspects of traditional appointment-based visits with something of an urgent care model.

I went in today for my physical. My usual doctor wasn't in, so I got to see Doctor Bane. Doctor Bane opened up my folder and asked why I was in. I showed him the five question form that basically asked questions such as, "Is this person physically able to perform tasks related to raising a child?" and, "Are there any health concerns that would prevent this person from raising a child?" Pretty straightforward stuff.

I explained that GPop and I had already adopted Son, and in fact, Doctor Bane has seen Son before, so we had that connection. Doctor Bane looked concerned about the seriousness of this form, and started reviewing my medical concerns with a strong eye for detail. My medical conditions are the standard for someone who has a desk job - overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and one that's a little more severe - type 2 diabetes that I control with medication. I don't have any debilitating health issues, so that part of the conversation didn't faze me at all.

He asked me to provide a sample to do a kidney function test, so I left the room to do so. I returned to the room with the sample. The medical assistant retrieved the sample, and I sat alone for a few minutes while medical things happened outside.

Doctor Bane returned to the room. He sat down and started going over his list of concerns. I have high cholesterol. I have high blood pressure. I have diabetes. OK, I know these things, and I take my medication for them. When the assistant took my BP at the beginning of the session, it was 116/82. My other numbers aren't way off base as long as I'm on my meds.

Then he said that he thinks my risk of heart disease at some time in my 50s (more than a decade away) is strong enough that he doesn't want to approve my physical. He's concerned that if I adopt a pre-teen child now, that child may not have a father later when the child is in his or her 20s. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Then he took a deep breath, and told me that I was placing him in an ethical dilemma. Huh?

He went on to explain that his belief system doesn't put him in a position to approve of people "in the homosexual lifestyle" to adopt children, so even if he did pass me on the physical, he still couldn't fill out my form. At that point, I think I was stunned into silence.

He spent a good ten or fifteen minutes blathering about how he was able to separate his professional behavior from his personal beliefs, so he wanted to make sure I knew that as I decided whether or not to accept his care as a physician. I spoke very little, but wondered as he kept going on whether he would be obligated to treat me if I broke my knuckles by punching him HARD right in his pie hole.

Finally, when he stopped going on about Leviticus and Romans, I asked him whether he would interfere with any other doctor at the facility who would treat my request for a physical on my actual physical health. He told me that the other doctors were answerable to themselves, not to him. He stopped just short of saying that the other doctors were answerable to God, or Odin, or whatever.

He went on for a while more in the vein of how his belief system was based not on what some pope or bishop said, but rather on his own interpretation of his scriptures, and blah blah blah. I tuned out trying to think of whether I needed to do anything else before I left. I thanked him for his candor, because it would help me make up my mind (about how far to stay away from this raving loon).

I don't think I've been so humiliated in years. I frankly don't know what to do next. He obviously spent a lot of time covering his ass by going over every medical concern I have ever had in an effort to find a professional reason to avoid filling out my form. I doubt I could find any reason to file a professional complaint.

I read about this kind of awful treatment of LGBTQ(etc.) people on other blogs I frequent, and it makes me angry as hell. I've never had this kind of thing happen to me before. How angry is angry as hell squared?

18 comments:

Shay said...

He's got the right to his beliefs but for cryingoutloud why didn't he just recuse himself to begin with? What a jerk.

Angry Professor said...

Sweet hairy Jesus on a stick. File a complaint. Make sure everyone knows about him.

What a moron.

GDad said...

I wondered the same thing. I guess my question for me is why did I sit there for so long and take it?

Answer: I wanted to see if there was anything I could get him to say that might be actionable. Too bad I didn't have a tape recorder.

GDad said...

AP,

I plan to let people know at the adoption agency, at my employer's benefits office, and at the local GLTQB(etc.) political action "organization." (Scare quotes are appropriate there.)

I'm not sure how far any of that will go, though. The recent judgments concerning healthcare providers' rights to refuse service based on religious belief don't appear to me, as a layman, to be trending strongly toward supporting any complaint I would make. However, I am not a lawyer, so any legal analysis should be taken with a shaker of salt, because a grain isn't enough.

Angry Professor said...

At least make sure the other doctors in his practice know, and telling your "PAC" is a great idea.

Baldo said...

You sir, by describing your experience, have gotten my blood all angried up.

Mayhap a strongly worded letter, describing your feelings of humiliation, and anger at the outright bigotry you were shown would be an appropriate thing to send to the facility.

The others professionals in the practice should know how you went to them to receive medical attention, and instead received an unwanted religious scourging.

He may be entitled to his religious beliefs, but bigotry is bigotry, and is just as ugly dressed up in clerical robes as it is in white hoods and torches.

CrankyProf said...

I bow to your superior self-control. I would have knee-capped the bastard.

Mandy said...

Holy crap! What sort of ridiculous crap is this?!!? How does this actually pass in the medical profession?!?! Would he fail to honor his Hippocratic oath for a Jew? An atheist? What about a woman? God hates us too. (*^!&*^%&(!(*#&%&*@#% I am so seriously pissed off right now. A doctor!!??!!??! *()@^%^&%^&*^^%!!!!!!!

Sid Schwab said...

I hardly know where to begin: my profession embarrasses me once again. In a larger sense, I've never been able to get my mind around the fact that intelligent and well-educated people -- especially those in "science" related fields -- have such lacunae in their brains.

Years ago my clinic expunged a doc who was overtly proselytizing patients. In my state, currently, there's a big deal over whether pharmacists can refuse to dispense "Plan B" pills for religious reasons. I can't figure how such a pharmacist, or a person such as Dr Bane (good one!) would go into their fields if they have "convictions" like that. The person who needs the testing, it seems, is he.

I'm sorry you had to go through that. I understand the anger. I hope the sense of humiliation has passed, because he's the one who showed himself to be unworthy, not you.

GDad said...

Thank you to everyone who's commented for your kind words. I'll post any updates if this becomes a saga. I'm trying to decide between "Expose the jacka$$" and "Let it be."

Leaning toward the former, though.

Hoji said...

For what it's worth, I explained your situation to my pastor tonight. I told him what Son has gone through in his life, and the newfound stability of his current living arrangement. I was frank and honest about you and your lifestyle and what I've observed about Son's living arrangement with you and Gpop.

His answer lined up with mine: "Get a new Doctor."

Sid is embarrassed on behalf of his profession. I am embarrassed on behalf of my faith. As Christians we're commanded to uphold a certain standard of morality (which I'm sure all of us could debate from now until entropy takes us all.) However, we're also commanded to be respectful of man's laws ("render unto Caesar what is Caesar's"), be supportive, steadfast, and above all be a friend when the time requires it. Matthew 10:16 - "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

There's a time and a place to exercise your personal beliefs and that is when the situation demands it. (But don't accuse me of practicing situational ethics.) If you're a Doctor and you have a dying patient and a family asks you to pray with them and you are comfortable with it, it's OK.

If your patient asks you to sign a form stating you're in decent enough physical health to keep parenting your adopted child it's not OK to whip out your particular canon rod of morality to start taking measurements.

I'm truly sorry you've had to face this anger and frustration. I want you to know I'm here for you and will stand with you and support you because I've seen what good parents both of you are.

CrankyProf said...

Yeah, I agree with hoji. Get a new doc.

And be none-too-quiet about WHY. I'd send a letter, and CC it to the entire practice, office staff and local licensing board included.

Polite, calm -- but firm. I am leaving because Dr. Bane is a bigoted, hemorhhoid-ridden, fungus-afflicted, dingleberry-encrusted asshole.

Maybe not in those exact words. But with that spirit.

gay CME guy said...

It may be too late to post a comment here, but just now read the post (just found your site). For what it's worth--my two cents: This doc NEEDS to be reported to whatever agencies/organizations will listen, and this medical practice needs to know how one of their own has treated a patient. IF you plan to leave this practice, let them know why, and that you will not skulk away silently. Those of us who have the ability and fortitude to stand up to these asswipes, owe to ourselves and to those who aren't in positions to do so. This man is an imbecile.

Anonymous said...

GDad
YIKES! I am so angry on your behalf! It's bad enough you have to jump through all those other "approved parent" hoops--which BTW, would knock many hetero parents out of the running at first blush---but then you have to deal with this idiot doctor's fascist religious "ethic"?

I hope you do report him. To the practice, to the AMA, to the local news, to whomever will listen. But get your paperwork signed by another doc first.

karen from GifS

anginae said...

I just read this post from your link in your comment on Jen's blog. I cannot believe you had to go through something like that. He really had no right to do that. It's people like him that I'm fearful of finding out that we are a mixed-orientation couple.

Queers United said...

I can't believe you had to go through this, its disgusting. You handled it very professionally. I probably would have given him the knuckle fist sandwich. I would report this nutjob. He must keep his religious life out of the workplace, if thats too much he should get another job.

Branch said...

Hi gdad, I hope you did write to all peoples connected to this Dr. A letter factually written, short and to the point can work wonders. I recently was treated disrespectfully by an emergency room Dr. He treated me as if I were a druggie just trying to get a pain shot(which I was trying to get) I complained to my primary dr and she said I was probably over reacting that many addicts do go to the ER just to get meds or shots. I asked her how many were 70 years old a grandparent and great grandparent, an upstanding property owner,and member of the community. I was so humiliated and angry I finally sat down to my puter and fired off numerous e mails and then wrote many snail letters. It only took hours for letters of apology to start coming in. Finally when the cheif of staff asked what I would settle for I said I wanted a letter of apology from the dr himself. I received it. I did not threaten legal measurs because that was not what I wanted. This insensitive dr has now left our community. just to let you know that there is a place for justified outrage.

GDad said...

Branch,

Thank you for your insights. I'm sorry you had to go through that episode, but it sounds like the outcome served your community.

Please stop by again.