Being an editor of a newspaper and also a passionate medical reporter, many cases of malpractices come across me. A few days back a man approached our newspaper complaining about a doctor for his misconduct. We told him to first talk to the doctor and resolve the issues, if not then file an FIR, let the judiciary do its duty. He said the doctor has taken multiple signatures on some sorts of consent forms, before operating on him. Still, I personally contacted the doctor and told him to look into the said matter and somewhat the things got addressed. What we need is a willingness to determine the problem and talk one to one rather than to take vengeance.
Well! My intention was to instil faith in medical practices, and I keep mitigating such cases peacefully for the larger interest. Well! Recently, there was an assistant to a doctor who secretly told me that his doctor charged lakhs of rupees from a patient in the name of liposuction and tummy tuck, the anaesthetist was paid few thousand, the tuck was given but the patient was told that the liposuction was performed, whereas he never required that treatment. Not only had that but the doctors instructed his staff to tell lies to the patient.
A clinic assistant said, “I don’t trust doctors because I’ve worked with them. I’ve heard doctors talk about patients like they were less than animals. I have had to care for the patients & been asked to lie against patients & mistreat ones w/o money; while also, pamper richer patients who were over-prescribed new expensive medications they should not have been prescribed, which the doctor knew, but these days doctors decided the fess judging the pocket of the person. There are lots of horror stories to follow; in India, patients are ‘losers’.
In the meantime, there was a suggestion that the Doctors should be barred from taking Pharmaceutical companies or any other sources, kickbacks for undermining the wellbeing of their patients for profit. This is a disgustingly common occurrence but surprisingly no such doctor is ever punished. Doctors though vocal enough when boasting about their intelligence and skill, sink into quiet cowardice when any government agency wants to enforce and impose inhumane regulations on how much a patient much suffer, and right now in India people are choosing self-suffering after their doctors turn them away from the care they have been dependant on for years.
Doctors know that the only way they will be punished is if they go against the Government regulations or norms or if the patient is resourceful. That’s the reason the general public gets cheated in most cases. Doctors do not deserve your trust right now because they look at you and see non-humans who might mean income. Lots of experiences have made me realize that there are ordinary and downright terrible or crazy doctors in the state, said one of the nurses practising in a reputed private hospital.
While hearing all the odd stories, I came across a person who told me about his childhood memories stating that he had been an excellent General practitioner when he was growing up as a child in Mumbai. His name was Dr Deshpande. His work was his life. He used to visit the homeless shelter and treat people there for nothing in his own time. He was a bulk billing doctor (no gap fee) who had no interest in pharmaceutical companies or their sales reps. His interest in medicine was purely about people, not money. He was beloved by all his patients who he knew on a personal level. His waiting room was always full, both because he was so popular and because he took as much time with each patient as they needed.
More than the new patients, the recovered ones used to wait at his clinic for hours just to thank him and bless him. Although he practised until cancer forced him to retire in his 80s his mind was sharp and he was as up to date on the latest research as any younger doctor. I was so spoiled by having such a good doctor when I was young I thought that’s what they were all like. Those days are gone; such doctors were incarnations of God. Those days there was immense faith in doctors. But today there are a lot of trust issues.
There was an old lady who shared a horrible experience of her life; she went to get an operation to have a lens in her eye replaced. She is elderly and the operation is done in the public health system for people with cataracts. When she went in they dropped some anaesthetic into her eye. That turned out to be some sort of ‘cleaning fluid’, no anaesthetic! The fluid burned her cornea and she was in serious pain, which took a year to settle down. Later on, she developed a vision disorder. As a result, she has an uncomfortable puffy lump under her eye, which she is very conscious of. It is not subsiding even though it’s been something like a year now.
There is another doctor who seems to try to minimize everything he sees. My brother was taken there with difficulty breathing. He examined him and concluded it was the flu or a cold. He was taken home and seemed to be getting worse. Instead of the doctor, he was taken to the emergency room and he was admitted straight away. He had serious fluid in the lungs and needed immediate treatment. This doctor couldn’t even recognize a medical emergency. It’s not the first story I’ve heard about him telling someone that it’s nothing and then it turns out to be something serious, the saga was narrated by a young collegian.
Similarly, how can we forget the Yoga teacher Ramdev who infuriated doctors across the country with his disparaging remarks on allopathic medicine? In a widely shared video, he was heard saying, “Lakhs of people have died because of allopathic medicines, far more than those who died because they did not get treatment or oxygen.” He even purportedly called allopaths a “stupid and bankrupt” science, offending the whole medical fraternity. Later, challenging calls for his arrest, said, “Even their baap (father) cannot arrest Swami Ramdev”. His firm, Patanjali, said it would give a “befitting reply” to any defamation notice. Various units of the Indian Medical Association filed complaints against him with the police, based on which multiple cases were lodged. The association, which had sought an apology within 15 days, later sued him for defamation and demanded a compensation of Rs 1,000 crores, but the general public at large stood by Baba but not with the doctors. Even our Prime Minister who asked us to clap for doctors maintained silence on this issue.
I have heard many such stories and writing all of them in one edit is not possible, let me conclude by reminding you that no doctor wants to do deliberate damage to his/her patients. Mistakes happen and they are also human beings, not aliens. Each sector has one odd side so the medical fraternity too, there are corrupt and fake journalists, there are corrupt politicians, there are corrupt businessmen, teachers are also unethical. But doctors are more responsible because your life is in their hands. The time has come to acknowledge those good doctors’ vs those scavengers in the medical fraternity.
The biggest question at this moment is, who should be held responsible for such disgrace to the doctors?