No place for politics
As a physician who used to work at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, I oppose the unfair description of the hospital in the Taipei Times’ editorial in reference to former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) (Editorial, Feb. 21, page 8).
The editorial said that clashes between the hospital team and Chen Shun-sheng (陳順勝) caused the public to wonder whether the government is hiding something about Chen’s true status. It implies that the hospital team is helping the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration to cover up the alleged deterioration of Chen Shui-bian’s physical and mental health.
One cannot rule out the possibility that the team was acting wrongly, as implied in the editorial. However, the crux of the issue remains, how can Chen Shun-sheng assert any level of certainty that the diagnosis rendered by the team is wrong and his own is right?
Different physicians often hold different opinions toward a patient’s condition. At the interactive sessions of medical conferences, when a “challenging case” is presented, seldom is there an “unanimous” opinion among physicians.
When people question whether the hospital team’s opinion is politically motivated, is it not plausible that Chen Shun-sheng’s opinion is also politically motivated, driven by the desire to secure medical parole for Chen Shui-bian?
The editorial also cited Chen Shui-bian’s “deteriorated physical and mental condition” as evidence of Ma’s indifference to human rights.
Certainly, Ma does not have a sound track record when it comes to protecting human rights, yet the cited relationship between imprisonment and that of deteriorating health is very questionable. For example, just two weeks ago a middle-aged physician friend of mine suddenly dropped dead. Three days prior to his sudden passing, he seemed to me healthy, without any sign of demise. Were my friend’s human rights being violated because he died suddenly? Of course not. Unexplained things happen; people get sick, imprisoned or not.
As a physician, I choose to trust that both the hospital’s physicians and Chen Shun-sheng have done their best, according to their ability and judgement.
I sincerely hope the dividing tactics employed by politicians from both the blue and the green camp find no place in medicine.