Tuesday, May 19, 2020

What do you have to lose?

Some of the most frightening words that I have heard uttered from The White House have made the news again.

The phrase, "What do you have to lose?" was again used by the President when he was discussing his daily hydroxychloroquine regimen. 

"What do you have to lose?" Trump said. "OK, what do you have to lose? So, I have been taking it for about a week and a half. Every day at some point, every day. I take a pill every day." As reported on Fox11News. 

Frankly, decisions about courses of action should not be based upon half-baked ideas where the only reason for doing them is "What do you have to lose?"

The answer is simply--your life! You could lose your life!

Further on in the Fox 11 News article, it is reported:
The Food and Drug Administration last month issued a warning that it should only be used in hospitals because of a risk of heart complications. Several studies have also shown the drug has no benefit in treating coronavirus compared to patients who didn’t receive the drug.
In some studies, there were more deaths among patients given the anti-malarial drug than those who received standard care.
Hydroxychloroquine has a known history of serious side effects, including heart rhythm issues, severely low blood pressure and nerve damage.
It appears to me that the stakes can be very high for taking this drug without a good reason and a competent medical guidance. 
I do want to debunk a myth, however, about the President's use of the drug. It was rumored that he could receive substantial financial benefit if the drug was adopted as a standard treatment for COVID-19. I checked Snopes and found that this is mostly untrue. He does own, via some mutual funds, interest in multiple companies which manufacture the drug, hydroxychloroquine, but the holdings are insignificant when compared against his overall wealth. Increasing his personal wealth, then, does not seem to be a viable reason that he is promoting the drug.
So, back to the question, "What do you have to lose?" For the President, perhaps nothing although there are risks for his health, for him that risk may be acceptable. BUT, as a leader who many people follow, sometimes blindly, he could be needlessly putting their health at risk by professing use of a drug with dubious benefits in treating COVID-19 and known and sometimes dire health consequences.  Leaders need to consider their actions and the impact on others. Modeling good and reasonable behaviors are what good leaders are called to do. Leaders lead through conscious decisions and modeling of desirable behaviors.
Making decisions for good reasons and encouraging people to follow is leadership. "What do you have to lose?" does not inspire followership. It creates a conundrum that is the antithesis of leadership.
Another way of looking at it is, What do I have to gain? When do the benefits outweigh the consequences? Good leaders clearly outline the benefits or consequences for following, or not following them. 
"What do you have to lose?" 
The Fox 11 News item contained this sobering statement: In some studies, there were more deaths among patients given the anti-malarial drug than those who received standard care.
Maybe nothing, but then, maybe everything. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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