Dear Cedric

Dear Cedric,

I see ads for medicines on TV. I’m scared. They have so many side effects. Can I stop my bipolar medicine and instead use something natural like St. John’s Wort?

Rufus W.

Dear Rufus,

My attorney insists that I inform you of the following: I am not your doctor and cannot make specific treatment recommendations for you. I do not have your complete medical information. I’ve never examined you. I’ve never even met you. You may not exist. My attorney stipulates that by reading this column you agree not to sue me for taking any of my advice. Please stop reading now if you can’t agree to those terms. Do you understand? You MUST STOP READING. If you have read this far, you can no longer sue me in all states (except ND, KY, and DE).

Like most family medicine doctors, I carry standard malpractice insurance up to three million dollars. I know, it is surprisingly little, seeing as you could lose your kidneys, be forced to stool into a bag protruding from your abdominal wall, or even die at home–all alone on your cold bathroom floor–due to my errors. : ) But you can’t get your greedy hands on that money at this point, because by reading this far you’ve already forfeited your right to sue.

If you are worried about my advice, you can look me up online. Yes, several national and state agencies and groups have created free websites to evaluate me. Or you can spend $13 and get a report from HealthGrades. The information is mostly public record—schools attended, dates of training, place of business. The reports also list some lawsuit information, professional misconduct, and discipline actions taken. You may be able to sue these sites if the information is inaccurate. Or you may be able to sue these sites if you chose me as your doctor based on the information from these sites and I subsequently hurt you with my advice.

My attorney asks that I likewise divulge that I only have a license to practice medicine in the state of New York. So, if you are reading this advice in another state, it may not apply to you. YOU MAY BE HURT BY TAKING MY ADVICE IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF NEW YORK STATE. And you would have no recourse to sue me for my malpractice insurance money–unless you move to New York. And that’s going to be expensive.

As a disclaimer, my attorney says I must inform you of my potential biases: I favor fruits and vegetables over deep fried veal. I think old people are adorable. I have always been against child abuse. And I love America. And in regards to your question, Rufus, I don’t watch as much TV as I should. I haven’t seen most of the “direct to consumer” drug marketing by pharmaceutical companies. But I get handfuls of patients asking me about them every week.

(Note to patients: when the TV ad tells you to ask your doctor about the medicine advertised, please do not page your doctor after-hours to ask about it. Please do not insist on interrupting your doctor from treating dying patients so you can ask about medicine for your toenail blemish. If it’s important to you, please make an appointment to sit down with your doctor. When you come into the office, your doctor will gladly spend time talking about whatever is important to you.)

Rufus, your question is very important to me. It touches on so many vital issues: drug marketing, the pharmaceutical industry, the neutraceutical movement, depression, and fear. But, for medico-legal reasons, it would not be advisable to answer your question in this forum. Please see your local health care professional for immediate assistance.

4 responses to “Dear Cedric”

  1. Rufus W says:

    This is bullshit, Cedric. What kind of weasily, cockamamy non-advice is that? All you Americans are the same, eh? You and your lawyers and disclaimers and shit. You know, I have insurance also, I’m insured for a cool 1 million in the event I accidentally beat you senseless with your own orthopedic shoe.

    And let me tell you something else, I wasn’t paging you for advice about my toe cheese. I just wanted to talk. It’s lonely up here in Montreal.

    All my love,


  2. Trixie Honeycups says:

    you guys are silly.

    is all this chatter because of the concert at carnegie hall last night? did you attend it? (rufus, of course YOU were there, but was cedric in the audience?)

    my favorite quote from a recent interview he did where he said, “The moment I perform ‘Clang, Clang, Clang Goes the Trolley’ will be the gayest moment of my life.” And then he went on to say, “For everybody in the audience, it will be one of their top gay moments, too, and that’s wonderful.”

  3. No self-respecting reader of TGW will want to miss Julie’s write-up of Rufus-does-Judy, available *finally* (I waited all day) on writermama. She took her mother-in-law as a birthday present. Shelley went too.

  4. Stephanie Wells says:

    “Stool” is a verb?