The Hippocratic Oath is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts and is the earliest [5 – 3 century BC] expressions of medical ethics in the Western world. The Oath required new physicians to swear by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards.
That swearing a modified form of the Oath remains a rite of passage for medical graduates in many countries today attests to the importance of the Oath in establishing principles of medical ethics. Several of the original Oath’s ethical standards, including medical confidentiality and non-maleficence, remain important today.
Twenty two centuries after the Oath was written the medical condition called ‘Trench Foot’ became known when conditions in the trenches of WW I resulted in soldiers feet suffering prolonged exposure to damp, unsanitary and cold conditions.
At the beginning of the 21st century the rising tide of homelessness saw ‘Trench Foot’ also become known as ‘Street Feet.’
When you are homeless your feet cannot avoid taking a beating.
The policies and practices of the City of Abbotsford limit the ability of the homeless to practice good foot hygiene and ensure that during the winter the feet of the homeless suffer prolonged exposure to damp and cold conditions.
Being Homeless in Abbotsford in winter means you have a significant probability of suffering/dealing with foot health issues.
Without a family doctor seeking medical attention is not a simple matter. As a result medical attention is often not sought until the consequences and pain of health issues provide sufficient motivation to navigate the hoops of accessing health care.
For the homeless whose feet are their means of transportation, sore painful feet provide a disincentive to going anywhere, even in search of health care.
For those who fail to attain the needed medical care for their feet, at some point pain drives them to hospital emergency, often with an infection that is a health emergency.
If antibiotics fail to get the infection under control it is necessary to cut out the infection to allow the antibiotics to work. If the antibiotics still can’t kill the infection the next stage is amputation.
On March 6, 2018 a member of Abbotsford’s homeless community ended up in hospital with infected feet.
After antibiotics proved unable to deal with the infection, infected flesh had to be excised down to the bone.
Pictures taken and shared by someone visiting the patient on March 17, 2018 showed bone exposed by the removal of infected flesh.
Simply beginning the proper healing of feet in the condition the photographs showed would require 6 – 8 weeks of being off the feet; of sanitary conditions; of bandages being changed for clean bandages……..
After the removal of dead/infected flesh the patient was warned if he failed to care for his feet and allow them to heal properly he would lose his feet to amputation and that death was a possibility.
On March 27, 2018 Abbotsford Regional Hospital discharged their victim onto the streets of Abbotsford homeless.
Abbotsford Regional Hospital dumped their victim into conditions where his feet faced prolonged exposure to damp, unsanitary and cold conditions: where their victim is required to be on his feet and opportunities to be off and rest his feet are few and far between; where their victim is required not just to be on his feet but to walk on those feet; were a change of bandages would require a long walk to the hospital; ARH gave their victim a prescription for pain medication, but since he has neither money or coverage of drug costs……..
Maleficence : 1. the doing of evil or harm: 2. the quality or state of being harmful or maleficent [doing evil or harm; harmfully malicious].
I am not suggesting that Abbotsford Regional Hospital is guilty of maleficence here.
No, the actions of Abbotsford Regional Hospital surpass malficence by several orders of magnitude entering the realm of depraved indifference.
Lamentably the actions of ARH were not surprising because, when it comes to the homeless and the powerless, ethically challenged behaviour is far to often Standard Operating Practice.
The price the public pays for of leaving unchallenged and uncorrected the treating of any group as less than others is a cancer that spreads less than adequate healthcare.
Excellence does not come with exceptions. Excellence is not an exception. Excellence is a prevailing attitude.
At 4 AM on April 2, 2018 the health of the victim necessitated calling an ambulance that returned the victim to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.