medicine and violence

BookLouise Aronson at The New England Review:

PubMed is the search engine for the National Library of Medicine’s comprehensive biomedical and life sciences journal article database where doctors go to look up almost everything. Put in the words “violence” and “violent,” and dozens of key phrases pop up. Many refer to subtypes of violence, such as domestic, youth, gun, sexual, and workplace, or to violent things, people, and events, including video games, patients, and crimes. Others focus on screening, prevention, and management strategies. But no key phrase addresses the violence doctors inflict on patients. Even those that seem as if they might, such as “healthcare violence,” yield articles about patient-to-healthcare-personnel violence, with branches for different countries, hospital locations such as emergency department or psychiatric service, and weapons used. Combining these key words with “doctor” or “doctor–patient relationship” doesn’t help. Searching “violence by doctors” yields articles on violence toward or against doctors.

I don’t mean to equate medicine’s violence with these other types in nature, degree, or morality. But at this moment in American history when violence figures daily in the news, when it’s clear that the need for violence is often in the eyes of the beholder and certain people are more likely to be its victims than others, and when police and prosecutors, policymakers and the public are all examining how they contribute, consciously and unintentionally, to our society’s explicit and structural violence, I wonder how it can be that in my profession we are not considering our own violence from new and varied perspectives as well.

more here.