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PTA Blog Talk

Well, Recuse Me

Published February 23, 2011 10:17 PM by Jason Marketti

There have been times that I recused myself from patient care. Once was when my landlord was in the hospital with a diagnosis of cancer. I knew my involvement might create an unwanted bias or a difficult decision-making process in the care or treatment so I bowed out gracefully with complete support of the other therapy staff.

How about lifestyles? Can I recuse myself from the care and treatment of someone because I do not agree with their lifestyle practices? Such as the young lady who had a TBI from an MVA due to excessive drug and alcohol consumption. Perhaps the person is a homosexual and my Christian beliefs do not coincide with theirs. Or how about the patient I saw who had several swastikas tattooed on his arm? And the big question is if I do not treat the person, am I being too judgmental?

I think it is best as a therapy practitioner to step back and assess whether treating a patient will be upsetting and bias you against that person's care. I have stepped up and advocated for treatments even if I did not agree with a person's lifestyle choice. I think everybody has the right to access therapy so long as we can make positive changes in their life; i.e. mobility, pain, comfort.

Those therapists and assistants who cannot or do not want to treat people whose ideas and lifestyles are different from theirs are missing out on an excellent experience in patient care. The last man I saw who died due to complications of HIV/AIDs was a renowned dancer who traveled the world.

Although he was bitter toward the end, I considered him a friend who had lively stories that entertained me throughout the time I saw him. And the gentleman with the swastikas, well, he spent time in prison and told me he had to get those to survive in there. I never asked what he did to get to prison (although I was curious); it did not matter to me. He changed his life, was married, had children and a respectable job with the city where I lived.

I do believe we should have a choice in who we treat. I do not want to be cursed at, spit on and abused during therapy. But I also believe if we can make a positive change in a person's care, we should have an obligation to treat with respect and dignity despite any bias toward that patient.

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About this Blog


    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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