Fla. doctor should keep politics out of medicine

Florida urologist Jack Cassell has raised eyebrows with the now-notorious sign on his office door that delivers a controversial message: “If you voted for Obama … seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your health care begin right now, not in four years.”

“I’m not turning anybody away – that would be unethical. But if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it,” Cassell, who practices in Mount Dora, said to the Orlando Sentinel.

Whether he actually turns patients away or not is irrelevant. Cassell, who is a registered Republican and whose wife is the GOP candidate for county commission, has turned his clinic into a toxic environment that inhibits formation of trust between patient and physician.

Even Cassell’s waiting room has been desecrated. Instead of health brochures, it is piled with Republican anti-health care pamphlets. He also posted a sign that reads: “This is what the morons in Washington have done to your health care. Take one, read it and vote out anyone who voted for it.”

What should be a place of medical discussion has become a trivialized political forum.

“I’ve done nothing wrong but speak my mind. I’m just doing what somebody needed to do,” Cassell said to the Sentinel.

Cassell’s opinion is wrong. This is not behavior that a doctor should exercise while practicing medicine. Everyone has free speech rights, but Cassell disregarded boundaries by attempting to preach politics to patients.

“I know that most people go into health care because they want to help sick people,” U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., said to ABC News. “They don’t have some political agenda. I think it’s outrageous that someone would try to press his political agenda, and deny people health care because of it.

“A doctor takes an oath to help improve the health of patients, not just Republican patients or Democratic patients or conservatives or liberals. They take an oath to cure people.”

To remain true to their profession, doctors must not forget the central tenets of the Hippocratic Oath. This oath has been a longtime philosophical standard for medical practitioners.

“I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.”

Jack Cassell is not God. Treating patients is a privilege, and the trust between patient and physician is supposed to be special. Cassell should treat all patients equally, regardless of their political beliefs.

Neil Manimala is a junior majoring in history.