When a doctor is asked to provide a second opinion on a diagnosis, he or she can't simply ignore evidence previously collected, such as tissue from a lump that was removed. The doctor can examine that evidence, collect new data and say what treatment is recommended.
This appears to be happening with the Boise doctor who currently is examining 12-year-old Parker Jensen, the young boy whose case has gripped Utah and made national headlines in recent weeks. And yet, according to reports in this newspaper, the parents are not satisfied. This is not a "legitimate second opinion," his mother said.
And so, the agony of a frustrating case seems destined to continue.
Frankly, it's too early for anyone to make such a judgment about this latest second opinion. The doctor has yet to complete his battery of tests or make any conclusions. And, frankly, this ought to now become a more private matter between the Jensens and the doctors — one in which every needle that is injected and every test that is analyzed does not become fodder for a radio talk show.
Remember, the Jensens chose this doctor. The only condition that bound them was that the doctor must be board certified. The least everyone can do right now is show some faith in the professionalism of the people in the health-care business.
That is the one thing that seems to be sadly lacking in this case. The Jensens, and so many of the people who offer them vocal support at rallies and in letters to the editor, seem to believe doctors have something other than the best interests of their patients in mind. Some supporters have suggested a profit motive that trumps all else, as if health-care workers somehow rejoice in the thought of providing painful and costly procedures to a young boy because they all can make more money. Others have made mention of conspiracies, which would be equally ridiculous.
Anyone acquainted with health-care professionals knows how insulting and wrong these suspicions are.
The parents have agreed to abide by whatever recommendation the Boise doctor provides, even though they seem to believe the fix is in. Their only alternative is to lose custody of Parker. Meanwhile, they still must face charges of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor custodial interference for taking their son out of state when he was scheduled to undergo treatments.
There are larger public policy questions here having to do with parental rights and the sanctity of life. Unfortunately, much of this has been lost in a circus of protests and conspiracy theories. From the beginning, the public has been fed a mostly one-sided version of this story, owing to the state's reluctance to provide details and violate privacy rules.
But a boy's life is at stake. That must be the overriding issue. It's time for everyone to back off and let the doctors, who don't deserve the criticism they are receiving, do their work.