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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Judge, Internets! Judge!

What would you think if you got a letter from a former physical therapist that reads, in part: “I am writing to all past and present patients to introduce you to a good opportunity… If you have been considering investments … I recommend you call Joe Smith at Plorgan Smanley. I am enclosing his card. He is offering a free 30-minute consultation. He’s very knowledgeable… most importantly, you can trust him.”

Would you think, “Oh, how helpful of you, former physical therapist! I had not previously considered these 'investments' you speak of, but now that you tell me I can trust this person, I want to give him all of my hard-earned cash!” Or would you think, “Holy Jesus, that’s icky”?

As you may have guessed, this Actually Happened to Me. Can you believe it? My life, it is one of high drama.

Is it just me, or is this not something a medical professional should do? Isn't this one step above or below or to the left of selling your patient list? What the hell could have been her motivation? I have a hard time believing that out of the goodness of her heart, this therapist felt compelled to send letters to every one of her "past and present patients." Actually, I don't know if this makes this worse or better, but I seem to remember her gabbing about her husband, and the first name of this financial advisor sounds awfully ... familiar.

I’m not sure if I’m overreacting, because I have been, shall we say, unhappy with this former p.t. of mine. Because she took lots and lots of my money, while assuring me that I had a pain syndrome that would never go away, ever ever ever. Because she actively, vehemently discouraged me from seeing the one professional whose treatment actually offered some relief. And, oh! Because, when I was fully cured, she assured me that in fact I was not, and then refused to speak to my other therapist about my case, because what worked for me would mean that she would, in effect, have patients healing faster, and thus less work for her.

So, yeah, I don’t like her.

That said, who out there can offer their opinion on this letter? I bet you can. Don’t hold back. Is this unethical? Unseemly? Or am I unhinged?

Reader Comments (54)

I brought this up with my husband, a financial guy. He said it would be illegal for the Joe Smith to pay the pt any kind of refferal fee, commission, etc....but legal (at least according to the reglations that govern him) for him to purchase pt's mailing list.

I would imagine that some legal or code-of-ethics constraint would prevent pt from selling it.

He also said "That's a terrible idea! Who do they think would respond positively to THAT? That's not a referral. A referral is when you TELL your dentist that you're looking for a broker, and your dentist says "I have a guy I like a lot. Let me get you his number."

That letter's just bad. We question Joe Smith's judgement (having little question about the pt's) - one is supposed to believe that he has good judgement about investments?
June 9, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterbetsy
Uh... TACKY!! and just plain creepy. She shouldn't be doing stuff like that at all. And if she really is as bad as you say she is as a p.t. in the first place, perhaps reporting her would be doing her a favour by getting her out of the profession. Being a p.t. says to me that she should be looking out for her patient's best interests rather than her own.
June 11, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKhali
Well, you might be crazy, honey, but your former p.t. is fuckin' certifiable. Not to mention unethical, intrusive, unprofessional, and marked for doom by the karmic forces in the universe who will, in her next life, dictate that she come back as a pickle. And not the good kind, either, but a sweet pickle, as if a pickle that's sweet has any place calling itself "pickle" or living in a jar alongside the REAL pickles, sour or garlicky.... Wait. It's fairly clear that I'm as crazy as you might be, but on the other hand, that doesn't make the f.p.t. any less heinous and wrong-headed. (However, I must throw in the opinion at this juncture that Randy Cohen would be just as right in calling himself the Unethicist, a propos of nothing.)
June 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDew
Hi, came over from Blue's Blog - I just had to comment! This is TOTALLY unethical - what the hell is wrong with people? I just had a NYS Officeal try and solicit a job for his relative over a NYS funded list-serve! I told him to remove me from the list-serve and CC'd the Professional Audit Bureau of his Department. He e-mail ed me back SHOCKED that I was offended and didn't think he did ANYTHING wrong! People just don't seem to understand that business or govt. e-mail for WORK RELATED BUSINESS!! Now where is Elliot Spitzer's phone number...

June 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

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