Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Patria-Kaye Aarons | The truth hurts - but lies hurt even more

Published:Tuesday | August 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

 

All of us, no matter how thick we profess that our skins are, some lies cut deep.

I've recounted some magical, mystical stories about myself that would make for a great Mills & Boon. Nanny of the Maroons and her bullet-catching butt have nothing on some of the versions of me I've heard about. Most tall tales, good or bad, are water off my back, because I know the truth, and couldn't care less about any other adaptation. But there was this one lie.

Once, on Twitter, something was said about me that shook my very foundation. Someone, without the details, made a mean-spirited comment about a situation. And it caused buckets of hot tears to pour down my face after I read it. I called my boyfriend Kwasi and my accountant Cyreca and bawled.

Kwasi commiserated. Cyreca pretty much told me to put on my big-girl panties and not let one rumour ruin my dreams. I listened, took counsel, and today I'm standing taller. The comment hurt my feelings, but I had the power to ensure it didn't hurt my future.

Dr Ricardo Quarrie didn't have that good fortune.

Without recounting the career-damaging incident in detail, I'll give you the Cliff Notes. The 36-year-old Jamaican doctor was accused of lying to a patient in the US to cover up a surgical mistake. The story was carried internationally by The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and other major media outlets.

 

LIABILITY

 

His name (and future career) was dragged through the mud and, in spite of great grades, exemplary patient care and life-saving surgical skills demonstrated in the past, Dr Quarrie couldn't get work. Employers saw him as a public relations liability.

In the US, people Google their doctors. Dr Quarrie is a cardiothoracic surgeon. People don't willy-nilly trust their hearts, their lives, to just anybody. You research your doctor's competence and ethics before you allow him to put a knife in you. And for two years, the search results for Dr Quarrie brought up the career-crippling incident.

The most painful part of Dr Quarrie's story is that he never did what he was accused of doing. He was never the lead doctor on the procedure, the surgical mistake wasn't made by him, and he wasn't even the one who spoke to the patient after. Dr Quarrie was battling a new disease, 'lie-induced leprosy', and that's the worst strain.

It took all of two years for the overzealous lawyer who had spoken the falsehood to recant his statement in writing, and clear Dr Quarrie's name.

A two-year lie could have potentially destroyed 36 years of diligent hard work.

Now Dr Quarrie must work to rebuild his name - even harder than he worked to earn his medical degree. I think it is so unfair. Who will repay him for the shed tears, for the missed opportunities, for the denied jobs, for the lost income? You shouldn't just get to near ruin a man's life, his career, his name and say, "Ooops, my bad," and carry on like it never happened.

For some of us, our reputations are all we have. Good or bad, before people meet us, before they have the opportunity to form their own impression of us, our reputations paint a picture. And in today's age of social media and the mandatory Google searches, our reputations are internationally accessible.

For products and service providers, including doctors, Internet ratings and comments are perennially valuable.

My best friend got married and all her vendors, from the venue to the caterer to her make-up artist to her wedding planner, she found online. She entrusted this special day of her life to people based solely on Internet recommendations.

That same Internet that makes you can break you. And it's funny how fast bad news travels.

What happened to Dr Quarrie was wrong. But we can make it right. We can cause more positive stories about Dr Quarrie to appear first in internet searched. Share the online CNN story that's clearing his name. Share this article. Share the Nationwide interview by Dennis Brooks that has him telling his side. Lies have the power to destroy lives and careers. But not today, Devil!

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.