Statements from the medical profession have looked like a cacophony since the start of the crisis. It is not too late to deliver a coherent, helpful and civic speech.
A few days ago, I ran across my city of practice to join a generalist sister in her office, after a hook with the Council of the Order of my department, which made available to each practitioner a precious box about fifty FFP1 masks. Amid the interstellar vacuum of ammunition that was announced to us – wartime oblige – this announcement had a providential windfall effect. However, seeing little interest in using these precious combat weapons, as a psychiatrist confined behind a teleconsultation screen, I preferred to answer the urgent call of this colleague. How close did I feel when I delivered this batch of expired yet priceless masks to him.
Chance more recently made me fall on the intervention, media this one, of a sister of the AP-HP who, with an assurance that it is, for my part, more and more difficult to keep since the beginning of March, affirmed that “there are no problems of access to masks for carers in hospitals”. Is. Reassuring words, reassured caregiver. Hope that colleagues in the private sector, of which I am a member, can follow – theory of runoff put into practice. All this was short-lived, as the reactions of what is called the base were not long in coming: the obvious lack of material was easily demonstrable, testimonies and reports in support. This is the second break in the harmony of medical communication which it is increasingly difficult for anyone to adhere to.
Last night, taken with an uncommon insomnia, I discovered the interpretation of the Boléro by fifty musicians from the National Orchestra of France … in confinement! Or how, separately, the members of a collective succeeded in the feat of keeping intact the transmission of Ravel’s work. With the added emotion from this particular context.
What a gap between our two trades! Grace for one, cacophony in the other. Ours, however, is intrinsically associated with the management of any health crisis, where the other is condemned to suffer it. This ancestral difficulty of the medical profession to communicate between its components – linked to specialization and the diversity of modes of exercise – as with any representation has acquired a singularly problematic dimension in recent months. Our people, confronted with the phenomena of democratization of knowledge, diversification of sources of information, even addictogenic disinformation and now more profitable than information itself, would however need a united voice on our part . Not unique. No not monotonous. But capable of achieving consensus in his polyphony. Yes, one of the first challenges of our profession, and particularly of those who represent it in the media, should be right now, or failing that after this crisis, to succeed in establishing within it real communication.
Real in the sense of authenticity. The word of a doctor who addresses a population, of course when he takes it within the framework of his function, is subject to the same requirement of ethics and transparency, as defined by his deontology, as n any other of his acts. Namely, among other things, the information duties of his patient as well as the public, but also that of ensuring the use that is made of his name, his quality or his statements. Even when speaking on behalf of a company, union or party, it is extremely inconvenient for a doctor to omit or modify information, in order to serve a vision of his own and, even more, non-medical. We come back to this incredible communication around the masks, in which too many colleagues are engulfed. Hearing how useless and harmful these people could be wearing these famous masks, contrary to most international recommendations, hardly “masked” that they were accessories above all because of their lack!
Authentic, but also responsible, because our word, vector of knowledge and therefore source of power, carries. And, as soon as it is expressed in a media space, it is no longer only an exchange with journalists or between colleagues, but above all the emission of a statement towards a receiver invisible but very real. When a colleague speaks, in such crucial times, it is essential that they are balanced, thoughtful. It is obviously essential that we are visible in such circumstances. But finally, when we see the ease with which many doctors responded present to the continuous call of the news channels of the same name, often to open or fuel debates whose benefits remain largely to be proven, this visibility prescribed at high dose may have an effect opposite to that expected. Whether it was before the onset of the crisis, when media doctors announced an epidemic comparable to an influenza in an extremely spontaneous and manifestly little argued manner, without any precaution as to the uncertainty that conceals any emerging phenomenon, only to gear up later and without difficulty on reverse speech; or when two eminent colleagues debate live, without a filter and, hopefully, without being aware that they are intended above all for an uninformed public, of the interest of wildly testing therapeutic strategies on African populations , useful because particularly vulnerable…
Morning, noon and evening, a microphone is extended to our profession. Speeches are sometimes so different on the same subject that it becomes urgent to create alternative places for discussion, constructive and respectful exchanges between colleagues to reach a minimum of consensus. Although each one at home, confined in the small space which is his, orchestras knew how to create an immediate harmony to make their partition audible. It is not too late for us to deliver a coherent, supportive and civic medical discourse, in clarity and collectively. Not only so as not to add to the general disorganization, but especially because, if we persist too long in our dissensions, we risk realizing that we are the main cause.