The Human Humbug Virus (HHV)

The Human Humbug Virus (HHV)
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It’s a boon that the animals did not learn human languages and are not allowed to have facebook accounts. Otherwise Tigers would have complained about how cruel Lions are, and Rabbits would have intensely criticised Elephants for eating too much.

There is a huge number of “Advisors to the Doctors, Hospitals and Medical Professionals” from various non-medical streams, whose basic qualification in this field is the ability to carry on meaningless humbug that suits the social unrest against Doctors as a class.

Let me clarify few things at the outset: I love and respect my patients and colleagues, but not blindly, and most of the doctors I know also always keep their patient’s good above everything else. Most of my patients also reciprocate positively and many patients like / love / treat their doctor like a family member.

It is some “Good-for-nothing-else” social crusaders that create the rift between patients and doctors, and also prejudice the ‘lesser thinkers’ into believing that the very person treating them is their enemy out to dupe them. These are the victims of “Human Humbug Virus”. This epidemic is spreading fast, and also seems to have affected some doctors who advise their colleagues from other specialties how to practice, without having any experience of practicing that specialty.

A friend recently asked: “What should the average (saamanya) and needy (garaju/ zarooratmand) patient do on holidays if the doctors switch of their mobiles?”. I am surprised.

Are doctors not among the average and needy, given that most Indian docs belong to the middle class? Which other government offices remain open for the average and needy on holidays? If a doctor who has finished his work at 2 AM needs a ride home, who will be ready to provide it? If a doctor is beaten up by drunk relatives, who among the society has spoken against it?

There is this myth being spread: that the doctors beaten up were rude, did not communicate well, did not explain, did not reach in time etc. To tell my own experience in last 20 years, most doctors do their best to explain things to the relatives, especially in a critical case. If the relatives are uneducated, drunk, panicked etc., the doctor cannot wait until they learn and understand. There are lady doctors beaten up in emergencies too: how does our society and the Humbugs explain it?
Then again, anyone right from the prime minister to the supreme court judge can get angry on duty if they don’t like someone or something, so why can’t a doctor get angry at the mannerless, shouting, drunk and violent? How much time and energy is a doctor on emergency duty supposed to waste upon such relatives? Where every second matters, why should other patient’s lives be risked because of relatives who refuse to understand simple logic? Do all these people understand the complicated problems and risks in medicine?

Why presume that it is the doctor’s responsibility to attend all health problems of the poor and the needy on all days? Why don’t these humbugs ask the government about the scanty / absent facilities at all its hospitals meant to serve the poor and needy? So the answer to the question “What should the average and needy patients do on a holiday?” is that “Please go to the government / charity hospital nearest to you, and if you are unhappy about its service, ask the government about it. The doctors who have finished their compulsory govt. services and left govt. jobs are no longer liable to be available 24 /7 for everyone. The only understandable exception is emergencies, in which case too, a doctor at home cannot do much, so one should seek an ambulance and go to the nearest hospital. Most hospitals provide emergency services as duty, and will be happy to help the “emergency” part of it. But is that all? No. On holidays, the emergency facilities are misused as mentioned in the earlier article.

To those who advise the medical professionals on behalf of the “needy and poor”, let it be known that there are hundreds of needy and poor patients in all govt. hospitals RIGHT NOW who need help other than medical care. They need food, medicines not provided by govt., emotional support, transport to and from the hospital, home care and attendance by someone etc., including their toilet. How many of the humbugs who preach sermons to the doctors actually go and help these “poor and needy” patients at home or hospital for their non-medical issues?
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Recently an 82 years old orphan was admitted under my care in a critical condition, for 8 days. He needed some medicines from outside the hospital. I requested the young male relatives of some other stable patients in that ward if they can please get the medicines from a shop just outside the hospital (clarifying that I would of course pay for them): they flatly refused! Our security guards at the hospital actually attended to the needs of this patient till his discharge. This is the awareness, readiness and participation of our society in patient care: it just dumps ALL medical & non medical issues of everyone to be attended by the doctors 24/7, nobody cares now about other patients.

If you are really interested in helping poor and needy patients, please go to the nearest hospital and you will find at least few patients who need your help. Stop firing your pompous rifles of hypocrisy from upon the doctor’s shoulders. There are orphanages refusing kids, having no foodstuff / education facilities for those residing in them, there are old-age homes where patients cannot walk because there is no one to support them, there are beggars at each traffic signal openly abusing infants and children by giving them sedatives, keeping their wounds open to create sympathy, carrying them without covering their heads in open burning heat of the summers, there are poor disabled as well as manic, violent beggars on all streets… what has any film star, any politician, any government done for them? Go help those needy and poor, my dear HHV victims, before pointing fingers at the doctors.

Unconscious trauma victims and unknown dead bodies are commonly brought into most casualties. Most doctors go far beyond their duty to make the alive survive and dead reach their relatives. Who among the “Humbug advisors” has helped there ever? Only the doctors know how many sons and daughters write forms “Not to continue medical care / ventilation” for their parents who still have some chance of survival, and how many take home an unconscious / critical patient home from hospital, under different excuses.

I have many patients and mature non-medical friends I adore, and we share a very good bond. They will understand the plight of this situation readily. For the remaining, I clarify: It is every doctor’s duty to help a patient in emergency, but the society must stop abusing and advising the very profession which is striving to serve its interests. A few corrupt doctors is not the whole truth.

It is easy to presume and talk ideals. After 30 years of practice some doctors do get their desired home and peace in life, and then they expect that the newer generations should never expect to do better than they themselves did. ‘In our times”, “All our life” etc. are spoken as if the newer generation is begging / dreaming to be you. They are not. Let the new doctors please do better than to earn a big home or a small hospital in retirement. Let them take India to new heights in medical research, in discoveries, finding cures, winning Nobel prizes, and making world-class medical set-ups in India, for all its citizens rich and poor, and let the government pay for those set ups and the treatments too!
Simultaneously let the new gen docs also live a good life. Let them make better families. Let their wives and children not be punished for their choice of a noble profession.

Our prime minister said to the IAS class conference just yesterday: “Why tense? Quality time with family is a must!”. Why doesn’t this apply to the doctors too?

Coming back to the humbug virus affecting even some doctors, it’s high time we realise that every specialty has its own requirements, problems, methods which have evolved over decades. So a cardiologist cannot advise a gynaecologist how to practice, nor can a pediatrician advise an orthopedic surgeon what to do in a trauma case. (And yes, all of these should also not tell neurologists / psychiatrists to see patients faster and charge lower!!). We must have separate boards of practice control / discipline for different specialties. These boards must decide the practice standards for their specialty and fees too. Blanket rules may apply for the common purpose, but diversity is necessary to evolve our system into a better one than what we have today.

The first measure is to identify and treat the victims of this Human Humbug Virus. Next time someone advises the doctors about their duties and helping the poor and needy, especially on weekends and holidays, please request them for their contacts to upload on public platforms so doctors can start sending the poor and needy patient’s non-medical issues to them. Let the channels crying foul about the medical issues donate all the revenue generated during such news and the ads therein for the care of poor patients in govt. hospitals.

Otherwise the HHV will destroy whatever good has survived in this noble profession.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Issued in good faith.
Pl share without edits,

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