They want to politicize everything! Now, in the name of promoting “health,” doctors are urged to engage their patients about politics.
At least, that’s the gist of a column in the New York Times by Bellevue Hospital physician and NYU Medical School professor Danielle Ofri, who argues that since part of a doctor’s work entails helping patients live healthy lifestyles, physicians should therefore engage their patients politically in the clinical setting to highlight policies (liberal, of course) that she sees as germane to that effort.
A Prescription for Politics
From “Doctors Should Tell Their Patients to Vote” (my emphasis):
Suddenly, like Dr. Virchow [a 19th-century German doctor who wrote a report castigating public policies he believed responsible for a typhus epidemic], we are recognizing that our purview extends to the entire structure of our society and that politics is, as he put it, “nothing else but medicine on a large scale.”
Political decisions that affect insurance coverage, access to medical care, housing, minimum wage, immigration law, water sources — just to name a few examples — exert medical effects that are comparable with those of major diseases. Just ask the people of Flint, Mich.…
Now, as our society feels increasingly fractured, the health threats seem even more alarming. Growing income inequality, disregard of environmental hazards, and the undermining of social safety nets all stand to harm our patients’ health. Dr. Virchow’s words from 170 years ago about the creep of religion into state affairs, the outsize power of the wealthy and the autocratic impulses of government feel unsettlingly contemporary.