Your Medical History May Include ‘Climate Change’ Someday

That did not happen in this case. But Merritt said that if he had done it again, he could have done things differently. When it opened, he did not tell the patient that he was writing “climate change” in her chart. In fact, they do not discuss climate change at all. “If I knew when I wrote that in the chart that it was what I was doing to try to tell the story, I don’t know. I could have talked to the patient more about it and asked their permission,” he said. “But of course, at the time when I did it, I had no idea it was going to be a story in any way.” To this day, Merritt believes the patient had no idea she was the person in the story.

Go beyond the specifics by Merritt and his patients, the story raises big questions about how medicine can and should handle systemic effects on health.

Merritt wrote “climate change” out of frustration, wanting to document what he saw in real time. Other doctors have taken different approaches. Nyasha Spears, a physician at St. Luke’s in Duluth, Minnesota, does almost the exact opposite of Merritt – instead of quietly writing in charts to give a broader perspective, she regularly talks to her patients about climate change and the environment. . “As a family doctor, my problem is changing habits. This is what I do,” she said. “So my thinking on climate change is, I can start talking to patients all the time with the argument that changing habits is good for them on a personal level, but it’s also good for the environment. ?

In the case of patient Merritt, this conversation may not have helped much. She couldn’t do anything about her condition, couldn’t change any habits to avoid the scorching heat. Like many in her community, she can’t afford to install air conditioning in her trailer and moreover has very little to do. In cases like these, Ray says it’s possible that a talk about climate change isn’t warranted. “They can feel helpless because there is nothing they can do,” she says. “They’re literally living, and just living makes them sick.”

This fact can make things bleak for both doctors and patients. And to address the links between health conditions and structures like climate change and racism, doctors will ask not only what they can do for individual patients, but also what they have. medically modifiable to account for and account for these relationships. Today, there is no diagnostic code for climate change, no way to link these cases together or track them in any way, but perhaps there should be.

“There are all sorts of ICD-10 codes with absolutely no codes,” says Spears. “If you want to be entertained, just start watching ICD 10.’Falling from a spaceship‘ Is one. And so it would make perfect sense that there would be an ICD-10 code for climate change disease. “Being able to track these additional systemic determinants could make it easier to prove links and do something about them.


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