“Health Care and the Three ‘Hs'”

I was reading today the latest issue of Ethics and Medics, a commentary of the National Catholic Bioethics CenterĀ  The article was written by Father James Mctavish, a priest of the Verbum Dei missionaries who also happens to be a medical doctor. Here is a link: National Catholic Bioethics Center.

In the article, he speaks about the three “Hs” of health care. By this he means three ethical principles of concern to all health care workers. They are: honesty, humility, and heart for humanity.

By honesty, he means doing the best job you can, and being honest with yourself when you are not.

By humility, he means realizing you are not God (Lord, I hope physicians take this to heart now-a-days for some of the approaching economic inroads into medical decisions could easily leave a doc acting as if he or she is God.)

By heart for humanity, he means an awareness of the horrible poverty that inflicts our world today in so many places on the globe, a poverty that prevents even elemental health care for millions.

Having been in the field of mental health for nearly thirty years now, and having worked in a medical center for over twenty-five of those years, I think he is spot on, if you take what he says briefly and think about the implications.

I am of the opinion that all health care workers should have a portion of their work done pro bono. I was really impressed by a local dentist who has taken a large portion of his practice and dedicated it to those on Medical Assistance. His attitude has become one of gratitude for what has been given him over the years, and now he is giving back to the poor. Someone like him can do this as he has a private practice. Those of us who work for someone find it nearly impossible to give free of reduced fee services in the present medical environment.

When you have been a recognized as a professional in your field for as long as I have been, it is tempting to remember you are only human and not extraordinary, even though your patients will experience you in that manner. It is always good to remember you have that kind of influence in people’s lives, but also to know your limitations and failures.

It is also easy to beguile oneself into thinking you are always operating at the top of your game, especially after practicing your profession for so long. In reality, the longer you are in the profession, the more you need to update and refine your skills… and your heart for what you do.

When you think about it, these three ethical principles are good ones for all of us.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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