When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to modify the patient-physician bonds that tie them to their health care providers, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the modification.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that patients are not morons, that we are endowed with memory, reason and skill, and that we are autonomous beings capable of making rational decisions. Furthermore, we have an inalienable right to be treated with respect, dignity and decency.
In order to ensure a more harmonious relationship between physicians and patients, we set forth the following patient rights, which are to be honored and held as a common standard to which all parties of the doctor/patient relationship are held:
1. Physicians shall be required to answer questions in an honest and forthright manner. This holds true even if the physician is forced to admit his or her ignorance on a subject.
2. Physicians may not serve as the arbiter of whether a patient learns about his or her own condition, with the sole exception of when a patient requests that the physician do so. A physician may not withhold information from a patient who is actively seeking it.
3. Physicians must remember that patients are human beings, endowed with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to dress absolutely fabulously while still remaining sick.
4. Patients must be honest with their physicians. Patients must learn that symptoms that are "normal" to them may, in fact, be pathological, and should be reported to their physicians.
5. In response to Article 4, physicians must treat such disclosures with confidentiality, kindness, and above all respect.
6. Physicians may not blame symptoms they do not understand on hypochondria.
7. Patients must remember that physicians are, generally speaking, not responsible for the patient's medical condition, and must therefore treat clinicians with the respect deserved by any human being.
8. Physicians must repay patients the same fee they charge for a patient no-show if a patient is kept waiting for an excessively long period of time in the physician's waiting room.
9. Physicians must not be total jerks.
10. Patients must not be total jerks.
If we can agree to these standards of behavior, we can go a long way towards healing the breach between clinicians and those of us who suffer from chronic illnesses. That, and I'll make a ton of money.