In a letter written to the editor of Academic Medicine, Dr. Farzon Nahvi, a third-year emergency medicine resident, uses the example of the Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who died in police custody, to call out the “untraditional” duties of physicians.
In his letter, Dr. Nahvi points out that “the full circle of responsibility of physicians extends beyond the patients right in front of them,” he states. “We have a duty to not simply heal our patients but also to take that further step and do our part to improve the potential outcomes for society.”
Through various examples of suspicious activity, like a patient who comes in showing injuries consistent with punching or a baby showing possible injuries from abuse, Dr. Nahvi points out that suspicion surrounding the Freddie Gray case was due to “a misalignment of the facts between Mr. Gray’s injury pattern and the claims of Baltimore’s deputy police commissioner, that ‘non of the officers described any use of force.’”
Through rigorous training physicians are prepared to notice when the facts of an incident are stated and the actual injury presented to them. “As such, whether by marching, writing an op-ed to our local newspapers, or petitioning to our lawmakers, we have a responsibility to speak out and lead the charge for investigation and intervention in these instances,” Dr. Nahvi concludes. “While it often may be ultimately found that there is indeed no abuse or wrongdoing, just as with cases of suspected criminality or child abuse, we must use our unique position and skillset to do our part to protect the vulnerable within our society.