Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Chill in the Blogosphere

My mother used to say, "He who angers you, conquers you!" But my mother was a saint.
-Elizabeth Kenny

Dr. Wes’s recent hassles with an anonymous blog comment writer gave me flashbacks of two very unfortunate incidents that happened to physicians I have known.

Several years ago, a woman died of cancer and her son blamed the physicians, one of whom happened to be a friend of mine. The son called and screamed at the doctor, threatening her and her family. He knew where the doctor lived and the names of her family members. The doctor and all of us who worked with her were shaken by the experience. One day, a package arrived. Inside, the physician found a body bag like the ones used by mortuaries. Fortunately, time passed and nothing happened. The memory, though, remains.

Another story had a more tragic outcome. Dr. John Kemink was a well-known and respected ear specialist at the University of Michigan. I met Dr. Kemink when I took an ear surgery course in Ann Arbor during my residency and found him to be a friendly person and a terrific teacher. In 1992, an unstable patient became convinced that Dr. Kemink and another physician were conspiring to perform an operation on the patient designed to kill him. The man brought a gun to the hospital and murdered Dr. Kemink in the clinic. It was an incredibly senseless act of violence that the patient apparently viewed as retaliation for a perceived wrong.

No one of us is perfect, of course, and conflicts will always occur. Still, you sure hate to see folks that you respect targeted by angry, unhappy people. It takes a long time for everyone to recover. We're all pulling for you, Dr. Wes.

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