Moral responsibility – Doing the –RIGHT– thing…

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Blog

A friend of mine went to see her family doctor.  The doctor has been her family doctor for decades.  He was her family doctor ever since she was a child.  This makes for wonderful continuity in patient history and allows the doctor the get a more holistic view of their patient and the patient’s family.  She went to go see him because she was having major lower back muscle spasms and pain.  This had been going on for about a week and his response was to prescribe some muscle relaxers for her… Flexeril to be exact.  Now having a pharmacist for a father, she’s always been keenly aware of drug reactions and side effects so, she specifically asked the doctor if there was any side effects to the drug he prescribed.  His reply was “No, not really.”.

She filled the prescription and called her dad to just double check on possible side effects of the drug.  He said that it could cause extreme drowsiness so it should only be taken at night.  She followed her dad’s advice.  What precipitated during the course of the next two days, was nothing short of mind blowing.  The drowsiness was certainly there, as her dad had warned (yet the doctor failed to note), but there was also a weird change in mood swings that was just unnatural.  Thankfully she recognized the sudden, irrational changes in mood as well as the acute anger and sensitivity that accompanied it.  She began to do some research on the topic and within 10 minutes on Google, found information that could only be described as disturbing.  

She immediately stopped taking the drug and disposed of the remaining pills, vowing never to take it again.  This is all good and well, but what if she had NOT been so acutely aware of side effects?  I don’t want to play “what if” games, because it doesn’t lead anywhere good.

In my profession, I don’t have any legal or ethical responsibility to keep up to date with changes in the marketplace, yet I do it diligently because I see it as my moral responsibility to provide the best possible service to my clients and to have as much information available and processed as possible before making one recommendation over another.  I know we live in an “it’s not my fault” society and yes, I despise that mode of thinking, but with a medical doctor, especially one you’ve trusted your well being to for so many years, there’s a very deep level of trust associated.

Shouldn’t this doctor KNOW what the potential side effects of the drugs he prescribe are?

Shouldn’t this doctor ASK QUESTIONS of the pharmaceutical rep that pawns this crap off for him to prescribe?

Shouldn’t this doctor at least DO SOME RESEARCH on the kind of drugs he prescribes?

To me the answers are and always will be YES, YES and YES!!!  But alas, that wasn’t the case here.  It seems to me this doctor has been in the business too long and has become complacent.  Maybe it’s easier to improve your swing and make your tea time than it is to spend some time researching facts that may affect the lives of those who trust their care into your hands.




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Cornelius J. van Dyk

Born and raised in South Africa during the 70's I got my start in computers when a game on my Sinclair ZX Spectrum crashed, revealing it's BASIC source code. The ZX had a whopping 48K of memory which was considered to be a lot in the Commodore Vic20 era, but more importantly, it had BASIC built into the soft touch keyboard. Teaching myself to program, I coded my first commercial program at age 15.

After graduating high school at 17, I joined the South African Air Force, graduating the Academy and becoming a Pilot with the rank of First Lieutenant by age 20. After serving my country for six years, I made my way back into computer software.

Continuing my education, I graduated Suma Cum Laude from the Computer Training Institute before joining First National Bank where my work won the Smithsonian Award for Technological Innovation in the field of Banking and Insurance. Soon I met Will Coleman from Amdahl SA, who introduced me to a little known programming language named Huron/ObjectStar. As fate would have it, this unknown language and Y2K brought me to the USA in 1998.

I got involved with SharePoint after playing around with the Beta for SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Leaving my career at Rexnord to become a consultant in 2004, I was first awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award for SharePoint in 2005, becoming only the 9th MVP for WSS at the time. I fulfilled a life long dream by pledging allegiance to the Flag as a US citizen in 2006. I met the love of my life and became a private consultant in 2008. I was honored to receive my ninth MVP award for SharePoint Server in 2013.

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