That said, doctors should be careful not to overtreat their VIP patient, no matter what he wants. More isn’t always better. Every medication has side effects; the more medications, the higher the chance of interactions. The president’s use of the Regeneron antibody cocktail raises this question. Not only is this treatment experimental, with limited evidence for efficacy, but the president also appears to be the only person in the world who has received Regeneron in combination with remdesivir and dexamethasone. The first use of a therapy needs to be attempted on someone — but the president?
Serious questions have also come up about how accurately doctors have communicated the president’s condition to the public. While most doctors don’t give news conferences about our patients, we do communicate all the time to patients’ families. Doctors treating Trump should apply the same principles we use in those conversations.
Patients often tell us what they would and would not like to have shared with their families. Doctors respect that; it’s the law. If a patient doesn’t want to share, say, the X-ray results or an oxygen level, we wouldn’t. We would simply say that we are unable to discuss this on request of the patient.
But here are some other things we wouldn’t do: We wouldn’t say that the patient has mild illness if he is actually more severely ill. We wouldn’t cherry-pick test results in an effort to paint a falsely rosy picture. Even if our patient directs us to do so, we wouldn’t deliberately mislead. We’d probably tell the patient that he needs to talk to his family himself. But we wouldn’t compromise our own ethics.