A four year old girl was quite irritable, bleeding from the wound over her forehead, occasionally lapsing into unconsciousness. Her father told the doctors that he was unaware how exactly the child sustained the injury while she was playing with her younger sister. The casualty doctor asked about the patient’s mom, and was told that she was at home nearby, attending the other kid.
It was 10 PM.
She was rushed to the CT scan room. An expert radiologist Dr. Avi saw the 3D CT scan of her head, and immediately commented “Boss, this is not a fall. This is inflicted trauma, the wound has fractured and displaced the skull bone far wider than a falling impact could. Is this child battered?”
The kid was shifted to ICU. Senior Neurosurgeon immediately saw the kid and started treatment, suggested close observation. The doctors quizzed the father again, who kept on saying nobody knew how the child sustained the injury. A police information note was sent, the father and mother were interrogated. Nothing else came out.
The child improved over next two days, but on the third day had a convulsion. New medicines were started. The parents who were silent for two days panicked. That evening, they came to the treating doctor: both crying, they begged him for few moments of confidence and privacy. The sobbing mother then revealed: the father was swinging the kid around himself, holding her by her legs, when he suddenly lost balance and the kid’s head was rammed high speed into a concrete parapet. “Please don’t tell this to the police, we are poor, it was our mistake, if there is a police case my husband will lose his job.. we don’t have any other source of income. We beg you: please save our kid, we will pay whatever you want, but please don’t tell the police”.
The doctor had to inform police, as the child was still in the hospital, and duty surpassed both sympathy and promises. Upon follow up a week later, the parents revealed happily: that there was a kind, helpful social leader who had arranged for proper “settling” of the issue and that all was fine.
If the outcome had not been good, one wonders what the media headlines would have been.
There recently was a headline about how patients do not have any “easy access” to complain about medical care issues and negligence, corruption etc. , and the need of a forum for addressing grievances of all patients easily. Also that medicine has become a “Dhanda” (a derogatory word for business).
Well, the legal authorities have declared medicine to be a paid service / profession, and the patient a consumer, so no argument there. Every hospital has a medical director, almost every patient or relative knows where to complain if they are unhappy. Many go directly to the police station. (This practice and the blackmail therein had become so rampant and harmful that the Supreme court had to issue orders NOT to register an FIR against a doctor or hospital without consulting local medical authorities.) This is an established procedure in all professions (Sorry, Dhandas): that you complain only via the legally available channels.
There are fewer chances of threatening the doctor now with a police case or media defamation just because one had access to those. Hence the hoopla about “Not having enough to do against erring doctors and a corrupt profession”.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Many a TDH spoke ill about the medical profession, generalising the blame while conveniently forgetting the fact that the number of patients getting better and surviving are far more than the actual bad outcomes (all of which are automatically presumed to be the doctor’s fault by many).
Our own colleagues make statements like “ We should actively stop medical corruption” which is as vague and useless as some political speeches. The Medical Councils explicitly ban doctors from maligning and badmouthing their own colleagues. The corporates throw out doctors who do not fit into their corrupt practices. Everyone cannot start a superspecialty hospital (even minor hospitals require over 50 permissions, many wet). So the only way one can contribute to a “corruption free” medical practice is to follow it for oneself. Many do this silently, but the generalisation by media and society never excludes them, and they keep on facing the brunt of baseless allegations, disrespect and often harassment.
“All this problem is because there IS actually corruption in medicine. There ARE greedy doctors who extract money from the patient” say some of our own colleagues. There is no denying that there are corrupt doctors, but by discussing this on social or general media are you (a) defusing the situation and solving the issue or (b) trying to prove at the cost of others (especially younger generations) that you are yourself better than them?
If at all a separate non-medical body is made for “Grievance redressal” of patients, the same body should also redress the issues faced by doctors about many patients: blatant lies, hiding of crucial information related to patient’s health, presenting false data, self-medication, non-compliance with doctor’s instructions, continuing addictions and prohibited food or lifestyle, intimidation and interference with work, pressurising for false certificates, assessment and medical insurance documentation, disability or retirement claims or benefits on sympathy grounds, and above all: penalty for filing false complaints. The doctor should also be able to report the “domestic physical or mental harassment and denial of prompt medical care” to the patient by relatives to such a forum.
If at all a “Social or Media Forum” on public demand is dealing with corruption and malpractice issues in medicine, let them also include all other professions and public utility services by rotation. Can we imagine TV channels/ newspapers holding “Open discussions” about corruption in judiciary, military, government, Media etc.? Then why this “social special media court” for doctors alone?
Wonder how much money the TV channels spend towards poor patients or some other charity. Wonder if media is a business.
A judge is not allowed to report another judge to the media or society directly. Nor is a military official, minister, police or any other responsible professional. Have you seen police, judges, military officers, government officials, ministers malign their own systems, allege corruption among their own colleagues upon social or general media? That is breach of privacy and confidentiality. Why cannot doctors follow this simple rule: please go through available options to report the malpractices rather than mislead the public and media.
One can understand the jealous allegations of medical corruption by some non-medical professionals who have neither studied the issues facing doctors, nor have qualifications to talk about it, for the simple reason of venting out frustration where there is no resistance. One can understand that such “social loudmouths” do not speak about themselves or their own profession simultaneously, nor do they have courage to openly talk about the real rampant corruption in any other field.
It seriously hurts when our own colleagues talk of it as if it is a one sided coin, as if all doctors except themselves have chosen this profession for looting people. If there is corruption there are also legal channels to resolve the issues. Please respect them rather than badmouthing your own profession in an already paranoid environment. For a few corrupt doctors and a few irresponsible ‘sociophilic orators’, why should every honest doctor face the brunt of social anger?
No one should be corrupt, and no one should allege others of corruption without completely making their own family, colleagues, profession and government corruption free.
It is like telling your neighbour’s spouse what to wear, while your spouse is you know what.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande