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Congress addresses another victim of COVID pandemic: the doctor-patient relationship

Medical professionals decry one-size-fits-all approach, loss of physician autonomy.

Published: September 16, 2023 10:51pm

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks dedicated most of her professional life to medicine before entering politics. The Iowa Republican is one of several doctors in Congress now trying to treat one of the neglected victims of the COVID pandemic: the physician-patient relationship.

Miller-Meeks, along with Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, another doctor who chairs the House panel investigating the pandemic response, solicited jarring testimony from doctors at a hearing last week about the impact of vaccine mandates and licensure boards in handicapping doctors from treating patients the way their expertise saw fit. 

”Individual needs vary drastically. These can be due to allergies, co-morbidities, intolerances, various other medical factors, or social factors, that require a robust doctor patient relationship,” Miller-Meeks told the hearing at one point., decrying efforts to sanction licenses of doctors and pharmacist, who do not follow public health orthodoxy in treating patients with COVID.

“Never before have we had governors threaten the medical licenses of individuals, if through their interactions and their medical knowledge, were to prescribe a patient a certain type of medication or boards of pharmacies to be told that those certificates would be removed.”
Dr. Azadeh Khatibi — a California surgeon and medical freedom advocate — urged lawmakers to rein in excessive regulations that substitute political and government regulators judgment for that of trained physicians and censor the speech of medical experts. 
“In California, I've seen the attempt to remove physicians’ basic rights. So, I, along with some colleagues, have sued the governor and the Medical Board of California. In 2022, they passed a law that declared it unprofessional conduct for a physician and surgeon to disseminate misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19,” he testified. “And it defined misinformation as false information contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to standard of care.
“It was clear to me, even though it wasn’t clear to the California Medical Association, that this violated doctors’ right to free speech by chilling their speech and also the patient's First Amendment right to hear their doctors’ speech,” he added. 
Dr. Jay Battacharya, one of the nation’s premier medical experts who was routinely censored early on during Covid, told Just the News that there is growing consensus among medical experts that much of the conventional wisdom of public health experts during the pandemic — from masks to vaccines — was wrong or incomplete.
He said there is a need to fully reevaluate how the country deals with the pandemic before the next one strikes and mistakes need to be acknowledged. 
“It's just undermining confidence in public health. It says if the public health authorities can't admit that they were wrong, they would really, really gain regain some of the the sort of authority that they had if they were to first start by admitting their mistakes. 
Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a private practice doctor, set government regulators in public health officials used alarmism and unconfirm science to overrule the judgment and independence of doctors with their own patients.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, most medical scientists, for instance, uncritically accepted the epidemiological pronouncements of government affiliated physicians who were not epidemiologists,” he said. 
“At the same time, they dismissed actual epidemiologists as, quote, fringe when those specialists dared to question the conventional wisdom. In my essay, I postulate that the deference to government endorsed positions is probably related to funding,” he added.
Wenstrup, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, said one of the consequences of the fair monitoring of public cut professionals. Is that many people skipped routine, physical appointments, allowing diagnosis like cancer to be missed for long periods of time.
“The number of patients who were screened for cancer fell significantly. Correspondingly, the numbers of diagnoses also fell off. Early-stage cancer diagnoses fell by almost 20% in 2020. A recent study in Lancet Oncology found that this has now led to an increase in diagnosis of deadly late-stage cancers across almost all types of cancer,” he said.
Wenstrup told the hearing about a tragic episode where a patient whose surgery was delayed during the pandemic committed suicide because he couldn’t take the pain. 
 “I even had a sheriff call me because someone who was scheduled for their painful hernia, their case was canceled, at a time when in that county, there were no cases of COVID and he ended up taking his life because he was in so much pain,” he said. 
Wenstrup is exploring solutions to restore the primacy of the doctor-patient relationship and get bureaucrats in public officials from insinuating themselves into it
“As a physician, I understand the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Unfortunately, this personal relationship was trampled by unelected health officials as well as elected officials with no medical expertise, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by imposing one-size-fits-all mandates across the country,” he said on Twitter after the hearing

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