Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Doctor Dilemmas

I read a post by Pattu Raj here, about the way she’d been treated by doctors over decades. She seems to have been especially unfortunate. Here's just a couple of things she faced.

  • Male doctors speaking only to her husband even if she was the patient. Wonder why? After learning all about the human anatomy for at least seven years are we to believe the male doc was overcome by shyness and couldn't address the female patient directly? Or did he think a female brain wouldn't be able to take in what he had to say? Surely he must have sat exams with female doctors, some of whom might have done better than him in the papers. Or perhaps he'd like to blame his rudeness on tradition.
  • Being forced, as a prospective employee of a company, to get health certificates from a barely qualified and rude lady who used influence to land the job.

Of course, there is the other side too. I lived in India till the eighties. My second child was born in 1990. I especially went back to India to deliver the baby because I had full trust in my doctor of many years who had also delivered my first born. My only grouse against him – the waiting often stretched into several hours and was exhausting. As for my experiences with nurses and doctors in Indian hospitals – they were always professional, quite wonderful and very friendly. 

I was obviously disgusted by what Pattu Raj had to say about the treatment meted out to her - there's much more in her post. It gives rise to a whole barrage of questions. The first - who allows half qualified people to get away with practicing medicine? Does some governing body overlook this malpractice as long as its palms are greased? 

We all know what they should do. We also know they don't. It all boils down to what you can do.   How can you stop feeling helpless and cornered? For them to have the temerity to play with your health, your pain and your suffering! Can't you stop going to them and find a better doctor? That would soon make them toe the line.

If, for some reason you can't, why don't you get together with others living close by and start a discussion? Of course this involves donating a very important resource – your time, for a weekly meet up. Only you can decide if it is worth the effort. It might throw up some solutions.

To your health. May you always have the reassurance of a caring medical practitioner who is responsible and well qualified.


  1. Indeed! Well said! It is time the quacks are called so!

    1. Just surprised we've (ordinary people as well as properly qualified doctors) let so many get away with it. Maybe it started with quacks treating slum dwellers cheaply and then realising it was a fat cash cow. Wish the government gave them proper infrastructure in their villages so they don't feel the need to come to the cities and be forced to live in slums, in degradation, in poverty, in danger, lacking hygiene...

  2. But sometimes it is really the case with every second doctor! It is hard to find honest committed doctors these days, unless you know one personally.

    1. Honest, committed and Qualified. We MUST, Meenakshi. It is the only body and the only life we have and we need to look after it the best we can.

  3. KayEm, Thanks for talking about the issue.

    This is what happened to me, with two doctors , when I was facing the BP and Blood Glucose issue.

    I have met many good doctors too, who work in minimum conditions and still treat patients with affection.I have interacted with kind doctors who took good care of me when I had my children. I still remember their names and their smiles.(almost three decades back).

    My idea of writing that post was, to make the budding doctors aware that they should take the patient into confidence, if they think , it is wise. They should also explain the side effects, and problem associated with the medications, and allow them to make choice.(This holds good in case of chronic illness).

    I know, the doctors here defends themselves saying that "the patients are not equipped to handle information. They only panic.. That is why we keep a sense of secrecy."

    This is our country , where commercialism exists with selfless service. The medical profession, and the pharma companies are playing havoc, due to legal loopholes, and corrupt system.

    As you rightly suggested, we need to ask, why and get replies. Educated Indians can make a difference .

    1. First, thanks for your post. It is honest and these things need to be said. We've kept quiet for too long and have a fear of interfering and that just makes the situation worse for us.

      Second, Pattu, tell the docs who try to shroud things in secrecy that now everything is available on the net. (Hopefully, we'll make computers available to as many people as possible. NGOs have wonderful schemes like "One Laptop Per Child" in India.)

  4. Well, well, well.. First of all, I am a doctor.

    I don't know where should I start with. But I can assure you that most of the doctors you visit (with a legal degree of course) treat you (physically, mentally or behaviorally) with the sole intention of your well being.. But it is said that we often see the goals that are missed because they scream for themselves. Some of the best doctors that I have seen aren't very talkative or eloquent but they know their trade rather well. Dr S.K. Katiyar, world renowned T.B. specialist sees one TB patient in every 90 seconds. Number of TB patients he goes through in one day are encountered in one year in by some other experts in some developed countries. He can't satisfy each of his patients behaviorally due to sheer load of patients he has. I mean the best thing I would desire in my doctor is ability to treat me. I mean doctors are also human beings, and every one has different nature. They may be indifferent due to their nature or their workload. We should not generalize our bad experiences to conclude that entire crop is corrupted.

    As far as the question of quacks and backdoor doctors is concerned, that is more of a governance issue. It can be dealt with some political will and administrative efficiency that is nowhere to find.

    I agree that there may be some bad doctors, but I can bet that they are not a majority. Just like every other sector, health sector is marred by corruption, bribery, politics, corporate-government nexus among many other things.. I think it will be fair enough to assume that doctor's in India are not committed. More than 20% doctors in USA and 10% doctors in UK are from India. You go anywhere in the world and say that you are a doctor from India, you will immediately know that doctors from India are respected worldwide for their knowledge and practices. Whole system is corrupted here, health sector is just a part of it.

    I have tried to be neutral here (to the possible extent - I am a doctor by soul).. I believe I have made a point.

    1. The doctors who've treated me in India and here, in NZ, have only had my well being at heart so I would agree with that point. It is your second point about "quacks and back door doctors" that I hope ordinary folks are able to find the time to get together and start talking about so that such backdoor docs and quacks are not able to practice medicine and play with someone's health at all.

  5. Replies
    1. No, of course not. It is much appreciated. If the system is corrupt and they will never change we have to start a discussion to see what we can do. And if qualified doctors join the discussion, so much the better.