Hitting a Nerve

Dealing with an anti-masker


Recently I got a referral from another office and skimmed through it, as I always do, to make sure it’s something I handle in my little practice.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

Overall it seemed pretty straightforward, but on page 3 were multiple notes that the patient adamantly refused to wear a mask to visits, or took one off as soon as she got back to an exam room and refused to put it back on. She also insisted on in-person, not video, visits. Staff members had documented that she told them masks were “stupid and worthless” and called people who insisted on them “idiots.”

I looked at the notes for a minute, then flagged them to indicate she is someone who shouldn’t be scheduled if she calls, forwarded them to my secretary, and moved on to my next patient.

Some might say this is discrimination, but I disagree. Although studies vary on the degree of efficacy, the overall data show that masks help prevent the wearer from spreading COVID-19 to others, to a lesser degree protect you from catching it from others, and are safe to use.

So I insist on patients wearing masks when they come to see me. The data on COVID-19 spreading through asymptomatic people is pretty solid, so those who say “I feel fine, so I don’t need to wear a mask” are only endangering others.

Certainly, people have the right to refuse masks, but currently the laws in my area require them in public, and I definitely require them in my little practice. I’m not calling the police if someone doesn’t wear one, but I’m not going to see them in my practice, either.

Like all other doctors, health care workers, and patients, I’m as susceptible to infectious disease as everyone else. If I’m sick, I can’t take care of others.

I’m not refusing to see the sick—far from it—but if I’m going to try to help you get better, then you should be willing to wear a mask to help protect me, too.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Recommended Reading

AMA takes on vaccine misinformation, physician vaccines, racism
MDedge Neurology
Twenty years later, two gambles that paid off
MDedge Neurology
Are more female physicians leaving medicine as pandemic surges?
MDedge Neurology
Medicare finalizes 2021 physician pay rule with E/M changes
MDedge Neurology
An alternative path to recertification
MDedge Neurology
Biden chooses California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head HHS
MDedge Neurology
New residency matching sets record, says NRMP
MDedge Neurology
Lost time amid COVID-19
MDedge Neurology
Proposed HIPAA overhaul to ease access to patient health info
MDedge Neurology
COVID-related harm to HCWs must be tracked more rigorously: NAS panel
MDedge Neurology