What Happens When a Patient Wants to Write about You?


By Dan Meyers

Joel Levine(May 2, 2011) Frannie Rose had struggled to find a doctor who would not only help her feel better, but who would listen to her. Finally, she found Joel Levine, MD. He helped her. He listened. And so, grateful, she wrote him into a heroic role in a book about her experiences. He’s one of two doctors named and praised in her story.

"I told him once that he was stuck with me forever and there was nothing he could do to get rid of me," Rose says of Levine in her book, Fixing Frannie.

Rose also asked Levine to write the preface to her book, but he had concerns. Was this crossing a boundary?

"She believes a spiritual force is working through me," Levine says, adding that he’s just trying to be a good doctor. "It raises that question of how you help a patient whose worldview is different than yours."

The book also poses boundary questions, because Levine grew up believing that you do what’s right for its own sake, not for reward or praise. "And yet," he says, "it was important to her for me to do this, and the book raises interesting issues about health care in the United States."

So he gave permission to be named and agreed to write the preface, in which he presents a quick overview of issues in the health care system and offers advice to patients on how to get the most out of it.

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