The September issue explores physicians’ role in addressing the myriad nonmedical factors—such as poverty and economic justice, climate change and environmental stewardship, marriage equality and human rights—that affect human health. There is danger that well-intentioned physicians with little expertise on such “non-bedside” matters may be taken as authorities because of their professional status. On the other hand, these social, economic, and environmental ills threaten the health and welfare of the public. Ignoring them is like treating the symptoms of disease rather than its cause, and that is not the best way to practice medicine.
Invoking one’s medical training when presenting an opinion on a topic about which one has no expertise is simply cloaking personal one’s views in the mantle of respectability that being a doctor provides.