The sad thing is that the publication itself still stands by it's non-apology, even after Dr. Kelly himself has publicly apologized and acknowledged that the article was in poor taste. If a medical publication stands by weight bias, it loses all credibility, in my opinion. At least Dr. Kelly has done the honorable thing by publicly apologizing. Outpatient Surgery Magazine could learn a lesson from him on this.
Yesterday, the Obesity Action Coalition notified the community about an article that was published in Outpatient Surgery Magazine. I caught wind of it by Andrea at WLSVitagarten.com, and instantly did a video response to get the word out. People were appalled at this article, with good reason. Here's a selection of some of the "jokes" that Dr. John Kelly and Outpatient Magazine thought were humorous and were published in the magazine:
"When should you worry? Be real concerned if:
-Your patient has more chins than a Chinese phonebook.
-Your patient has stretch marks on his teeth.
-Your patient has a dog named Twinkie.
-Your patient has more chins than a Chinese. (racial slurs too...they CAN'T be serious)
-Your patient has a daughter named Tostitos.
Then goes on to conclude with:
Being honest, not mean
Yes, there are a lot of big folks out there. ORs aren’t like clothing stores; we don’t specialize in very large. We take all comers in an effort to heal them. But remember, if your patient’s jacket size is higher than your IQ, you may be in for a long day."
Being honest not mean? Are you KIDDING me? Nothing Dr. Kelly wrote was honest. EVERYTHING about it was mean. (Note: again, Dr. Kelly did the honorable thing and publicly apologized.)
But what's more offensive than this article initially being published is the non-apology that followed today. This is what Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief of Outpatient Magazine felt was a satisfactory response to the deluge of mail he got (quoted directly from the magazine):
...None of you disagreed with Dr. Kelly's premise that caring for bigger patients is a growing concern and a real challenge. What drew your ire was a surgeon using locker-room humor and one-liners to take potshots at your patients.
After a reader wrote that his humor should be kept to a comedy club...
...What Ms. Bryant seems to be saying is that it's not the message so much as the medium (a professional trade magazine) and the manner (insult comic Don Rickles) in which it was delivered. I get that. I also get that your natural instinct is to protect your patients against any threat. One thing I've learned in my 9 years here: hell hath no fury like a surgical nurse safeguarding her patients.
...I laughed out loud when I first read Dr. Kelly's column. But a wince wiped the smile off my face when I thought of how some of you might react to it appearing in your magazine.
...Just as it is your instinct to protect your patients, it is our instinct to protect our authors. We brought Dr. Kelly on board a few months back to be a humor columnist. We already had Ms. Watkins, a funny female nurse, holding down the last page. Why not give you a funny male surgeon's take, too? And not just any surgeon. Dr. Kelly is a big-time cutter at the University of Pennsylvania. He's a frequent lecturer at orthopedic meetings.
...And what we state in the bio at the end of his columns is true: He does stand-up comedy on the side. (**) He gave his last performance a positive review, but he says he wishes he could take back the jokes about gay sex (my note: WHAT!?!). They felt cruel to him. Cheap. Insensitive. He feels the same remorse over last month's column about overweight patients. "I hate hurting people," he says. "But we own the mistake, and we move on."
First, let's get something straight: this is no apology letter. They probably relied on the one response that they got that didn't condemn them within a hot second and used that to support their lame attempt at an apologetic response. And let me be clear about what Mr. O'Connor tries to understand from Ms. Bryant's response: it IS the message, it IS the medium in which it was delivered, and it IS discrimination at it's worse.
Hearing a fat slur from a random meathead on the street is one thing, but having those types of remarks come from a publication and a medical professional is completely another. People place their health, their well-being, and their trust in medical professionals. How could Dr. Kelly break that trust in such a horrific and PUBLIC way? Not only that, but how could any reputable publication publish it, and then SUPPORT it's decision to do so even after public outcry? It completely baffles my mind.
If you are nearly as upset as I am about this, please let your voice be heard. Please send your comments to:
John D. Kelly, IV, MD
University of Pennsylvania Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery
34th and Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215) 615-4400
Outpatient Surgery Magazine
255 Great Valley Parkway, Suite 100
Malvern, PA 19355
Phone: (610) 240-4918 x16
If you get a response, the Obesity Action Coalition asks that you contact them: www.obesityaction.org.