Tag Archives: Doctor-Patient

Can Anyone Solve The Mystery of Atmaram’s Courtroom Death?

Can Anyone Solve The Mystery of Atmaram’s Courtroom Death?

©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

A hungry poor man named Atmaram went to a big hotel, had a nice big meal, and told he had no money to pay. He was beaten up and handed over to the police. He was released after a warning and a slap.

Next day he filled up petrol in his bike, and said he couldn’t pay. He was again beaten up, handed over to the police. Then he went to the medical shop, bought medicines and mineral water, ate the medicine, drank water from the bottle, and again said he couldn’t pay. He was now jailed for a week.

Next week his house was damaged by heavy rains, so he went and requested to be allowed to sleep in the house of the chief minister. He was arrested again, thrashed up.

As angry Atmaram shouted at the police, he was beaten up by them, another crime was added to his offences. In the court, Atmaram insulted the lawyers and judges and accused them of accepting bribes and charging too much. The judge punished him extra for his behaviour. Atmaram was angry and threw his shoe at the judge. His punishment was extended.

“You must respect the authority “ the court said.

“But I am poor, I need free food and petrol and medicines. I need sympathy too” Atmaram argued.

“You should have begged and applied for favours and eaten in places that provide charity meals. Petrol, however essential, has the same price for everyone. You can sleep on the footpath, and above all, you are not allowed rudeness and violence because you are poor and needy” The court said.©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

When released from the jail, Atmaram drank a lot of desi alcohol, had an accident and fractured many bones. He went to the best private hospital, got operated and refused to pay his bills that crossed one lac rupees. When the hospital insisted, the operating doctors were beaten up by Atmaran’s relatives, the hospital was vandalised, the police arrested the doctor who saved Atmaram’s life, the government closed down the hospital, while the media and the society kept villainising the entire medical profession.

The headlines next day reported the sympathy expressed uniformly by wag addicted tongues: some said the entire profession was tainted, some blamed the greed of the doctors, even some doctors desperate for attention shed crocodile tears about the ethics in this profession. ©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

In the courtroom, during the trial, Atmaram sat facing the doctor, still heavily bandaged.

The hon’ble judge, kind but surrounded by security, told the doctor accused of negligence and malpractice in the court: “You as a doctor carry more responsibility for ethical behaviour upon your shoulders. You should never turn away the poor”.

The doctor, defending himself, asked “but Milord, doesn’t our constitution insist on equality? Why do you yourself or ministers get security but not the doctor? Why isn’t everyone supposed to stick to ethics in every profession including politics, police and judiciary? Why are others exempt? How do you explain beating up of doctors while also saying that the society treated them like gods?”.

There were no answers. The kind court asked if the doctor had to say anything else in his own defence.

The doctor said

“Yes Milord, but the real answers will hurt:

Jealousy against medical professionals across society and many other professions is a reality. Why else will anyone who couldn’t qualify to become a doctor try and teach the qualified doctors what they should do?”©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“A culture of exploitation of non-votebank groups

and a complete failure of government healthcare with no one accepting responsibility is well known to everyone, but even judges have no courage to suo motu question this and correct it, even when they see the poor dying”. ©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“In a country with never ending poverty, how much free can a healthcare facility provide? For how long? This is already forcing closure of hospitals and exodus of good doctors out of the country.”©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Milord, can you assure that every doctor will get his/ her fees as per his service to every patient, and if the patient can’t pay, that much charge will be exempted from the income tax of that doctor? How else do you except a doctor to meet his needs and dreams? Just because there are millions of poor patients, is the doctor’s life and hard work taken for granted? If there has to be financial sacrifice, why not have everyone contribute to it by creating a national health tax fund for treatment of poor patients? Why healthcare is subsidised only at the cost of a doctor?”

Just at this point, Atmaram, who sat in front of the judge, collapsed unconscious, almost blue black.

The shocked judge requested the doctor to examine him.

“He is no more” said the doctor.

“What could have happened ?” asked the kind but sweating judge.

The doctor told the court about three possible reasons. Two of them were scientific and medical: a sudden cardiac event or a large blood clot in the lungs common after fractures and trauma.

The third non-medical, unscientific cause made the Judge seriously ponder.©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Will this court be now closed down, Milord? Will your efficiency be questioned, will you allow the relatives to attack you and understand their sad situation at the cost of your murder?”

“I understand what you mean” said the kind judge.

Needless to say, the doctor was released without a blame.

Can anyone please solve the mystery of the third non medical, unscientific possible cause of Atmaram’s death?

(C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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The Changing Blood Group

The Changing Blood Group

(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“He is sinking” shouted Dr. Siya.

The casualty registrar rushed to the bed, checked the vitals. Pulse very fast. Blood Pressure very low. Lips and nails white, hands and feet cold. The young man, unconscious, was on the verge of death.

“He must be bleeding inside. Get an urgent sonography of his abdomen”said the registrar to Dr. Siya, and call the blood bank. He will need at least two units of blood urgently”.

It was Dr. Siya’s first week into internship, she was thrilled with the idea of actually saving lives. At the young age of 22, she was witnessing death almost every other day. Along with that she was amazed to see the darkest sides of human nature: the potential of humans to hurt each other: via rapes, accidents, murders, fights. She had decided to not let this affect her attitude, and to continue to try and save every life she could.

That late night, this young man of about her own age was brought in unconscious by someone, who had just dropped the patient in the casualty and left without leaving any identity of himself. “I found him lying unconscious on the road. I don’t know anything else about him. I am just doing my duty, I have a train to catch”said the stranger and left. The patient was reeking of alcohol. He had a visible head injury. A quick CT scan had revealed minimal bleeding due to a small skull fracture. He also had had bleeding from wounds from his hands and legs, they were sutured. The patient had no identity marks, wallet or cellphone. The policy of the hospital was to provide basic treatment and shift the patient to the government hospital. The police station was already informed. Treatment was started.

Dr. Siya requested two units of blood. The blood bank called. They had only one unit of the blood for his blood group. The registrar had the same blood group, and like many doctors working in the emergency departments, he went down to donate blood.

It was nearly midnight. The fate of the life of a young man depended upon what the junior doctor did just then. There was no one to sign any consents, the protocol was to inform the hospital’s medical director and obtain consent for emergency transfusion or procedure. Dr. Siya finished the formalities, obtained the permission, and started the transfusion. If the patient had reacted or something went wrong now, they all feared, there will be a havoc in the media: that they had let an unknown patient die because they wanted money!

Dr. Siya kept on managing the show. The angry and disturbed relatives of other critical patients kept on taunting her, speaking rude and reluctant to complete simple formalities and paperwork.

The sonography was thankfully normal.

Just as the first unit of blood was over, the patient became conscious, and revealed his name. He was quite shaken with the surrounding, but told in broken sentences about his friend’s number and address. He revealed that while returning from a party, his bike was interrupted by a bunch of goons, he had fallen down, they hit him upon the head and left with all this belongings.

The friend was called, and came in. He revealed that the patient was used to smoking weed and drinking alcohol in huge quantities. They were staying in the hostel of a famous college.

The second blood unit was started, and in a short while the patient threw a convulsion. He was immediately given injectables for controlling the convulsions, he slept off with the effect.

His parents arrived early next morning.. The shocked mother was consoled and explained about the situation by Dr. Siya. The elderly father, like all fathers, equally shocked but being a father unable to cry, kept mum, just holding hands of the boy.

When the patient woke up again, the father came to Dr. Siya, and touched her feet. Too embarrased, she told him that the registrar had donated blood for the patient. The father went and thanked the registrar, again trying to touch his feet.

As Dr. Siya had finished her night duty, she prepared to leave. “Beta, Will you come soon please?”asked the tearful mother to her. “Yes Auntie, I will be back soon. Don’t worry, he is ok now”she reassured and left.

On her way back her genius young mind tried to look at the situation sitting upon her shoulder, the little third person that resides within each one who has a conscience. That booze and weed was easily available to youngsters in almost all Indian hostels, that even educated people rode bikes without helmet, that crimes were happening almost everywhere that injured and killed people, that law and order was a laughable term in many parts ofthe country, that there was no government mechanism in place to provide emergency medical / paramedic support ambulances to raod / traffic accident victims: which one is the most responsible cause, when patients like these died? Who is responsible?

She reached home, told her proud parents what had happened, that she had helped save a life. Her mother folded her hands towards the sky, said “God, let my daughter save many lives everday”.

While having the breakfast, her father turned on the TV. A famous but ill educated political leader, in his mind-and-other- organs blowing speech in Karnataka, was explaining the illiterate public how all Indian doctors charged in excess, how they were only after money, how everyone except himself was the enemy of the millions of patients surviving from critical heart attacks, accidents, strokes and other diseases. All patients getting better all over te country was only thanks to himself and his government!

Dr. Siya’s father laughed bitterly. “Next time you need blood for any poor or unknown patient, call him” he said.

Dr. Siya replied, laughing “That kind of ëver changing blood group doesn’t match anyone, it is useless for any patient, Papa”.

(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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The Colour Of Blessings

The Colour Of Blessings

© Dr Rajas Deshpande

Carefully calculating the dose and mixing it with the intravenous fluid with precision, I told the kind old lady: “I am starting the medicine drip now. If you feel anything unpleasant, please tell me.”

Through her pain, she smiled in reply. Her son, my lecturer Dr. SK, stood beside us and reassured her too. He had to leave for the OPD, there already was a rush today. “Please take care of her and call me if you feel anything is wrong” he said and left.

Dr. SK’s mom was advised chemotherapy of a cancer. It was quite difficult to calculate its doses and prepare the right concentration for the intravenous drip. Just a month ago, my guide Dr. Pradeep (PY) Muley had taught me how to accurately prepare and administer it, so when Dr. SK’s mom was admitted, he requested me to do it for her too.

The drip started. After a few hours, I noticed that her urine bag needed emptying. The ‘mausi’ supposed to do it was already out for some work. Any resident doctor in India naturally replaces whoever is absent. So I wore gloves, requested a bucket from the nurse, and emptied the urobag into it. Just as I carried the bucket with urine towards the ward bathrooms, Dr. SK returned, and offered to carry it himself, but I told him it was okay and went on to keep the bucket near the bathroom where the ‘mausi’ would later clean it. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

Once the drip was over, Dr. SK invited me for a tea at a small stall outside the campus. He appeared disturbed. He said awkwardly: “Listen, please don’t misunderstand, but when I saw you carrying my mother’s urine in the bucket, I was amazed. You are a Brahmin, right? When you were away, my mom even scolded me why I allowed you to do it, she felt it was embarrassing, as we hail from the Bahujan community. I am myself a leader of our association, as you already know”.

I knew it, to be honest. His was a feared name in most circles.He was a kindly but aggressive leader of their community, but always ready to help anyone from any caste or religion, to stand by anyone oppressed, especially from the poor and discriminated backgrounds.

“I didn’t think of it Sir! She is a patient, besides that she’s your mother, and I am your student, it is my duty to do whatever is necessary. Otherwise too, my parents have always insisted that I never entertain any such differences”. I replied. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

“That’s okay, but I admit my prejudice about you has changed,” he said. “If you ever face any trouble, consider me your elder brother and let me know if I can do anything for you”. What an honest, courageous admission! Unless every Indian who thinks he / she is superior or different than any other Indian actually faces the hateful racist in the West who ill-treats them both as “browns or blacks”, they will never understand the pain of discrimination!

As fate would have it, in a few months, I had an argument with a professor about some posting. The professor then called me and said “So long as I am an examiner, don’t expect to pass your MD exams.”

I was quite worried. My parents were waiting for me to finish PG and finally start life near them, I already had a few months old son, and our financial status wasn’t robust. I could not afford to waste six months. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

I went to Dr. SK. He asked all details. Then he came with me to the threatening professor. He first asked me to apologise to the professor for having argued, which I did. Then he told the professor: “Rajas is my younger brother. Please don’t threaten him ever. Pass him if he deserves, fail him if he performs poor. But don’t fail him if he performs well. I will ask other examiners”.

The professor then told me that he had threatened me “in a fit of rage”, and it was all over.

With the grace of God, good teachers and hard work, I did pass my MD in first attempt. When I went to touch his feet, Dr. SK took me to his mom, who showered her loving blessings upon me once again, and gifted me a Hundred rupee note from her secret pouch. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

Like most other students, I’ve had friends from all social folds at all times in school and colleges. I had excellent relations with the leaders of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Association, and twice in my life they have jumped in to help me in my fight against injustice when everyone else had refused. I love the most fierce weapon of all that Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself carried: the fountain pen!

No amount of fights will ever resolve any problems between any two communities, the only way forward is to respectfully walk together and find solutions. Fortunately, no doctor, even in India, thinks about any patient in the terms of their religion or caste. (© Dr Rajas Deshpande). Just like the Judge in the court premises, humanity is the single supreme authority in any medical premises. Blood or heart, brain or breathing are not exclusive to any religion or community. Just like the bigger brain, a bigger heart is also the sign of evolution.

I so much wish that the black clouds of disharmony between different communities are forever gone. The only hope is that our students can open any doors and break any walls, so long as they do not grow up into egoistic stiffs. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

I am proud to belong to the medical cult of those who never entertain any discrimination. A patient’s blessing has no coloured flags attached! Even outside my profession, I deeply believe that the very God I pray exists in every single human being I meet. If at all anyone asks me, I am happy to say that:

My religion, my caste and my duty as a doctor are all one: Humanity first!

© Dr Rajas Deshpande

Neurologist

Pune

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A Medical Lesson That Still Hurts

A Medical Lesson That Still Hurts
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Can’t you see I am with a patient? We can talk later. Or may be tomorrow” snapped my lecturer at Pallavi.

Pallavi was 26, had epilepsy herself, but used to sit in our OPD to help other epilepsy patients. She came from her home by local train, travelling over two hours, and went back after OPD to attend her father. She was on many medicines to control her fits and depression, still used to have frequent fits. An epilepsy surgery was not possible, my professor and lecturer who were her caretakers had explored almost every avenue for her. Some unfortunate patients do not respond well.

Obviously she could not get a job and sitting at home worsened her depression. She was quite good looking and kind. However, her father was bedridden with a paralysis attack, and had many problems, even bedsores. That stress made Pallavi cranky and always worried. With no source of income, she was dependent upon help from the staff at our municipal hospital. As she was too proud to accept money without working, my professor had eased her ego by requesting her to help other patients: OPD paperwork, forms, getting medicines, patient education and restrictions etc.

She would either consult us resident doctors or our teachers if there was anything wrong with her or her father. Sometimes her anxiety was too much to deal with, she often asked repeated questions. Some epilepsy and psychiatry patients have worst symptoms around menses, and even get combative.
Most government and corporation hospitals have a never ending line of patients. In that rush it became impossible to answer her repeated questions patiently, and someone or other usually had to either snap at her or prescribe her an anxiolytic. Sometimes being too kind or available results in more attention seeking.

“See if Pallavi is OK” my lecturer told me after a few minutes.

Sulking, Pallavi had gone to the pantry near OPD and sat alone. During our tea break myself and my colleague Dr. Sachin went there too. My thesis / dissertation submission was in final stages, where everything about it seems so pointless and meaningless. I had to submit it within two weeks. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Tea, Pallavi?” we asked her as she sat in the corner.
“No, Doctor. I’ve had it. Thank you” she said. We drank our tea in an invaluable silence.

She suddenly said: “Doctor, my father has started continuously calling me names. He uses very bad language. My headache becomes unbearable when he starts shouting.” She became tearful.
While having tea, I wrote her prescriptions for herself and her father too.
“Doctor, I want to talk” she said, “I need to sort out things in my life” she said.
“Pallavi, the OPD is still heavy, we will talk after lunch, ok?” I replied. It was 3 PM already. We finished tea and returned to the OPD.

A few minutes later, I heard her crying in my teacher’s cabin. “You must learn to be patient” my teacher was trying to pacify her while attending other patients who kept angrily rushing in, demanding their own time. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Pallavi got a call from home and left the OPD before it was over.
I went straight to the printer after OPD for the final corrections of my dissertation.

That evening we got the news that Pallavi had fallen off a local train, killing herself. No one knew if it was a suicide.

I have never been able to overcome that till now. What if I would have spent few more minutes, talked her in kinder words, pacified her better?

I learnt one of the most important and precious lessons that every doctor learns eventually: There’s no afterwards. Answer the patient in front of you NOW. Never deny time to one in genuine trouble. A minute of a doctor’s patience can save lives.

This became clearer later, this is true about everyone, not only doctors or patients; no one ever knows which one is the last meeting between any two. Now I make sure to only part with a proper goodbye, a smile and no bad feelings: apologise if I am wrong, forgive if the other one is. Some say that feels too formal, some think it is a way to impress others, or being excessively unnecessarily mannerful. But I know what I mean. There are no guarantees in life: about myself at least. Every goodbye is potentially final.

Patients never seem to stop. Everyone is in their own hurry, tired, pissed off . The doctor is the common point of venting problems, frustrations and also anger. Most doctors acquire the saintly art of not losing patience, raising voice in the worst of situations, but it is at the cost of being inhuman to themselves. To spend 12-16 hours every day (18-20 in case of resident doctors) among the angry, suffering and accusative without losing patience is not a joke. This is one reason why patients see irate/ less interactive doctors commonly and misinterpret it as “ego / pride / snobbishness” etc.

That said, since that incidence in our OPD, I do not refuse any question from any patient in front of me. I do not end the consultation unless I have answered their last question or the patient starts taking advantage by asking repeat or unnecessary questios.

Pallavi, I feel very sorry.
Patient First, Patience Highest, Always, for Every Doctor.
Thank you for the lesson.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Real Story. Identities masked. Please Feel Free To Share Unedited.

The Mysterious Blessing

The Mysterious Blessing
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Years ago, one aged Sadhu / saint with long white beard came to the casualty at around 3 AM for an injury caused by a four wheeler. He was walking by the roadside, when someone’s uncontrolled jeep had hit his hand and sped away. He had a big bleeding cut in his arm and forearm. The lone young disciple accompanying the Sadhu was crying, but calm. The sadhu was smiling.

The medical officer on duty was too tired to wake up, and lost his patience. “Why don’t you take rest at night, Babaji?” he shouted at the Sadhu, and then told me, an intern then, to clean and dress the wound. The disciple carefully took away the Sadhu’s belongings: a cotton sling-bag, begging bowl, a Damru (two-headed hand drum), and a flute. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

As I cleaned the wound and stitched it after using some anaesthetic, the Sadhu’s smile did not change. I knew he had severe pain.
“Isn’t that painful?” I asked.
“Very painful, but now I feel better” he replied “God bless you”.
“We need to file a medico-legal case. Did you see the vehicle number?” I asked him.
“I have no complaints about anything. Neither the one who hit me, nor I run this world. The one who does will take care” the Sadhu said without any bitterness, and kept his hand on his disciple’s shoulder. “I am all right” he reassured the sobbing disciple. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The casualty ward boy brought my tea just then, and I requested him to get tea and some water for those two too. There was no one else waiting. Nights make us all better human beings for sure.

As they started to leave, I touched their feet. It was just an etiquette, out of respect for age and renunciation. I was just starting out as a doctor, and I was amazed at his pain tolerance and patience. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“What do you want? What shall I pray?” he smiled as he raised his wounded hand to bless me.
Never be ashamed to be honest, I knew. “I am waiting for my MD, a postgraduate seat. Please bless me for that”

I felt the irony of what was going on. But sometimes when life’s problems are beyond thinking’s domain to resolve, you don’t think: you just flow. Those times often become the most iconic memories of your life.

He kept his hand upon my head and said “My son, you already have what you want. Stop searching”.

Then, something out of the world happened.
As I got up, that Sadhu touched my feet. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Red with embarrassment and bewildered, I was too dumbstruck to speak.

“This is for the work you do” he said, and took out something from his bag. Placing it in my hand, he said “You treated me with the same love as you’d treat your own. There’s nothing more than that to learn in this world. May your life be blessed with the same love”.

As I stared at the big Rudraksha in my hand, they walked away into the dawn.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

PS: This is a real story. I am rather spiritual than religious, do not believe in most superstitions, but I do not also consider myself enough knowledgeable to take for granted that what I know now or for that matter what science knows today is final. As a doctor, there is no other choice than to think only scientific. But to choose only to be a doctor is optional.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The Arabic Gratitude

When a patient from Arabic world is happy, he hugs you and kisses you too! However much unused to we are for such a gesture, it wipes away all the dust off one ‘s mind and rejuvenates the spirit of every doctor, to thank God once again for considering one eligible for this responsibility.

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Happiness Is

Happiness Is:
A thirteen years old sweet fighter coming over to gift something she made with such affection for her doctor 😀 Thank you, Kanika Kesri.
Delighted & obliged with your gesture🙏🏻.15403864_727777090704871_7134881359160639060_o

Essentials Of Being A Smart Doctor

“Essentials Of Being A Smart Doctor”FB_IMG_1470417314264
Guest Lecture at National Undergraduate Students Conference ‘RESPIRARE’ at the
BJ Medical College
August 3 in B. J. Medical College
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

My dear friends,
If you are sitting in this hall today, you have already proven that you are smarter human beings, but that alone is not enough for becoming a smart doctor. However intelligent or smart anyone else may be in the outside world, your ability to save their life, help them in illness gives you an upper hand, hence the perpetual tag “Doctor sahab” bestowed upon you by the world. To be able to gracefully deserve that tag is a difficult task.
Like success, riches and many other achievements in the world, medical smartness too is not an accident. One has to earn it with a great effort.
There are really smart and good doctors, and there are also those who pretend so. Most patients can tell the difference. So if you plan to be a really smart doctor, you will have to imbibe the essential qualities in your very subconscious, so they become your basic self, a part of your personality. You will have to force yourself to change certain habits, traits of your behaviour and thinking, and allow the inception of newer, better methods within your being. I am very happy that I can speak this to you at this budding stage, while you still have ample time to modify the DNAs of your medical smartness. Once you accept to change for better, never go back or compromise. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Let us consider a small question: What quality is universally liked in a human being by almost everyone, including their enemy?
Genius?
Looks? Money?
Muscle power? Political Connections?
No.
Compassion. Kindness.
It is irresistible. Even when a patient has come to you with a prejudice or suspicion, the first thing that will change his / her attitude is your kind words, your compassionate attitude. It is not very easy to be kind and compassionate to everyone, especially the ill-behaved. This is where you will need to train yourself to be smart: by avoiding use of bad words, not raising your voice and not being aggressive. Keep your words to a minimum, and do not use negative, accusing words. Do not speak arrogantly with the relatives. You don’t know when things may take a bad turn.
However, the first few steps that you take to be kind to the patient will get you the biggest reward that this field has to offer: your patient’s trust, and if you care for it, it is usually lifelong. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
When the patients come in, they are not willingly entering the hospital in most cases, but out of desperation. They are scared, angry and often extremely worried that something bad will turn up as their diagnosis. Add to this the resentment caused by having to be questioned and touched by a total stranger, whom they have to tell private information. This has already made them jittery.
A smart doctor understands this mental state of the patient completely, and makes the best effort to ease out the patient by welcoming them, wishing them, and initiating a genuinely friendly chat. Such simple sentences like “Good Morning, How are you?”, “Hope you are not very tired”, “I am sorry that you had to wait” reassure the patient that they are dealing with a nice human being, and put them at ease.
Whether the patient comes from rich or poor, educated or illiterate background, the doctor must have utmost respect for their privacy and dignity. Asking private questions, undressing and examination should never embarrass the patient. Standing up and wishing the patient while they enter and leave your room makes the patient feel respected, and adds flair to your smartness. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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How should a doctor dress?
It is common to see few doctors, both junior and senior, wearing short sleeves and open collars, sometimes even low rise jeans, trying to show off their physique. One can only imagine what kind of reaction they will generate if things go wrong.
There have been many scientific studies about this. If you yourself want to be treated, you will never prefer a shabby looking, ungroomed, unclean person with a stink. You will want someone who looks healthy and positive to make health choices for you. The patient always wants to see a neat, clean and reassuring doctor. Your demeanour should not be frivolous: unnecessary excessive laughing, smiling, joking, bad language are not welcome to be used in front of a worried patient. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It is wise to dress up as good as one can, without too much show and fashion. A very richly dressed doctor in a suit may turn off an already nervous patient from lower socioeconomic classes. The best attire is formal, simple, clean and ironed clothes which cover you well, apron, shoes, and no jewellery. Fortunately, tattoos and piercings have not yet much entered this field. One must avoid religious clues, and refrain from religious and political talk while practicing as an allopath.
A smart doctor cannot forget that our field deals with people from different socio-economic strata. He / she should be able to irradiate the feeling of being a trustworthy person and invoke positive, peaceful feelings in those who come to see him / her.
Personal hygiene is an indicator of a doctor’s smartness, and such simple things as hand-washing after every case, using sanitizers, wearing gloves etc. speak a lot about a doctor’s dedication towards good health. Best clinical practices must be learnt and complied with voluntarily by everyone who wants to be a smart doctor. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Humility, manners and etiquette
A Spanish TV anchor who follows up with me for Multiple Sclerosis told me once: that many patients travelling to India complain about the doctors being very good clinically, but worst in manners. “I was amazed that you actually offered me a glass of water when I was crying during my first consult” she said. Such simple manners affect the patients so much!
Many doctors, as they ascend the merit scales in this profession, develop a complex that they are unbeatably smart. They end up becoming ego-balls disliked by almost everyone, because of their high handedness. A smart doctor will never let that happen to himself / herself. There are far more smarter people than most doctors in almost every other field, even some illiterates are sometimes smarter than the most literate. One must never shed humility, whatever one’s achievements. We often see students smarter than teachers, juniors smarter than seniors and we all know what happens in those cases. The best policy is to never presume oneself better than the other. A smart doctor always knows his manners and etiquettes very well. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Language and communication:
“What do you mean by dizziness?” my teacher asked a tired female patient once.
“Oh I feel abnormal noise in my ears” she replied. Dizziness, in patient’s language, may mean anything from imbalance, blackout, vertigo, to heavy-headedness or blurring of vision. It is always wise to dig into what they actually mean. A knowledge of regional language often helps resolve misunderstandings. Similarly, the patient may also misunderstand the words that a doctor uses.
A smart doctor will learn to communicate so as to make the patients from different streams understand exactly what is being conveyed. We do not always have too much time, hence it is necessary to develop the skill of using minimum words. One must use simple words, and know the colloquial alternatives (e.g. use “Heart” instead of “Cardiac”, use “Brain infection” instead of “Encephalitis” etc.). If the patient does not understand, one must encourage him / her to ask questions. Use pictures if necessary. Many patients / relatives do not stick to time or subject, often asking irrelevant questions based upon their googling, but a smart doctor must be able to steer them on to the right path with a smile and a gentle reminder of time limitation.
The most difficult part of being a doctor is conveying the bad news. There is no good way, one has to be very careful and diligent. On one hand one must offer sympathy and readiness to help further, while on the other hand, one must also be aware of aggressive, impulsive and shocked reactions, making sure not to risk one’s safety.
While conveying the bad news, surgical risk or complications, a doctor must have the patient / relatives sit down, have witnesses around, and speak compassionately but confidently, offering all possible help to ease out their suffering. A hesitant doctor invokes suspicion even if correct. However, an overconfident liar will invite more trouble, so be careful that you speak what is the exact truth. That never fails in long run. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Professional Smartness
Friends, as you become more and more specialised, you will unfortunately face rivalry and jealousy. Doctors are the most ingenious professionals in their ability of pulling legs or sabotaging careers, and you may sometimes be facing your own teachers in such situations. A smart doctor will never compromise his / her own grace or the dignity of our noble profession. Fight all that you must, and I will stand by you if you are correct, but always use the best language, think about and mention the best things about your competitor, and always keep the door for direct discussion open. Refrain from allegations, cheap comments, mockery and defamation. If you feel that a colleague is wrong in some clinical decision, please reach out to them and talk, before you discuss it with others. Everyone usually has a reason for their decisions, one must respect it. If your reaching out is unwelcome, then alone mention on paper what you think about the case. A smart professional will have no friends or enemies, no senior or juniors, but only colleagues. Immediate reporting of any adverse clinical events to the authorities, and correct documentation are essential. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Medico legal Smartness
We live in a country with too much poverty and illiteracy. If there is a chance that a doctor’s mistake can be proven, there is every chance that the relatives will drag that doctor into the courts of law, demanding millions in compensation.
In these days of exponential medico legal cases, where patients, relatives, authorities and even some colleagues are usually unforgiving if you commit a mistake, real smartness is to document everything perfectly. Just as an example, a young patient of mine recently had a stroke, without any known risk factor. Upon repeated questioning, he reported that he was taking some unknown herbal medicine since three months, in a mixture of some oils, to improve memory. One must mention every such detail on the paper, including poor known history, delayed admission and alternative treatments. Every interaction with the patient and relatives must be recorded on paper. Recording the date, time and your name and designation at the beginning of every note is an indication of you basic smartness. A proper written consent must be obtained for every procedure, however trivial. Information about dangerous medicine being given to the patient / relative should be recorded, a consent for the same signed by the relatives. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Academic Smartness
I do not know if I am enough qualified to talk about this, because I was often beaten up by my primary school teachers for not doing my home work and some other curiosities which I cannot mention here.
A doctor is expected to be on top of the pyramid of scientific advances, and there is nothing more pathetic than a doctor who quotes medical knowledge from decades ago. While we respect the past, we cannot disrespect what every standard medical textbook mentions on its first page: Medicine is an ever-changing science. A smart doctor, therefore, will still study on a daily basis even after achieving the highest degrees, and keep himself / herself updated with the most recent medical knowledge relevant to his / her field. Studying on a daily basis, I feel, is the most important basic quality every smart doctor must inculcate. One must register on smart medical sites like up-to-date, emedicine or many others, to stay updated about one’s medical interests. Yours is a lucky generation, having all information at your fingertips, thanks to your smartphones. Check drug interactions every time you use new medicines. Cross check your differential diagnoses. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Digital Smartness
Everyone is semi-addicted to their smartphones. However, they are also a great hindrance to the super-essential concentration required of a smart doctor while interacting with patients or making medical decisions. Smartphones can be wisely used to record data and expedite certain protocols, accessing information etc., but they should be switched off while with a patient. It is very humiliating and irritating for a patient when the doctor is occupied with a cellphone during a consult.
Social Smartness
There is a competition now among some doctors to post everything they do on the social media. A colleague of mine recently posted a video of a huge tumor that she removed from the abdomen of a patient. She is now under an enquiry for compromising patient privacy. One must refrain from posting any information that discloses patient’s identity on the social media.
Most of you google your crush, actor or actress you like, don’t you? Well, some of you will honestly agree.
Patients are as curious and inquisitive as you are, and may google you. So please refrain from posting undignified pictures / matter / vulgar jokes, etc. and pictures while drinking / smoking, hugging etc. on social media. Also refrain from posting stuff that maligns your own profession or colleagues. You can improve things from within, not by publicising them.
A smart doctor will learn over time to refrain from giving out personal number to the patients / relatives, as this may lead to many disadvantages later, including unwanted calls, messages, advertisements and other misuse.
While patronising should be avoided completely, (“You are my brother, sister, mother, father etc.), in some cases it may reassure a frightened patient, hence it may only rarely be used. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
It is not at all uncommon for a doctor or a patient to get a crush upon the other. In case you sense a love interest blossoming within your patient or yourself, immediately rethink about your life’s choices and refrain from any further progress in that direction, as this could turn disastrous for your career. Do not encourage meaningless chats, messaging or personal comments when dealing with patients. An allegation of molestation, sexual harassment or mal-intention can ruin you.
Most doctors feel proud of their excess hard work, and often mention that they work without proper food or sleep for days together. While this is really commendable, it is also a granted feature of this career. One must learn not to milk a pardon for one’s ill behaviour or mistakes by quoting excess work. A mistake is a mistake and the best policy about a medical mistake is being completely honest about it. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Moral Smartness
My recently published book, “The Doctor Gene” ends with the words “A good doctor is the best a human being can be”.
You belong to a community that practices the highest of morals not just because the society expects it, but because you have voluntarily sworn to. You have chosen this career yourself. Right from now, please imbibe the best of morals and truthful attitudes in your blood. Believe me, every human being has the hidden sense to perceive a genuinely good person, make sure that your patients get this feeling about you. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Serenity Smartness
One important art in medicine is almost on the verge of extinction: that of immense concentration. What with the hustle-bustle and digital exposure that every medico must work with, we are fast losing the ability to switch off the world and concentrate, think or meditate. These things bring the serenity, so essential an ingredient of medical smartness. Learn to find time, preferably on a daily basis, to be with yourself, and sort out the tangles in your mind before they strangulate you.
Higher education
I get atleast one question everyday from some or other medical student on my facebook page:
Which branch is best? What PG should I do?
You will eventually realise what you like. You may seek opinions, but not decisions from others. Be smart enough to identify what you want and respect your own inclinations. Keep a list of alternative options, as PG seats are limited. Don’t waste too much time in pursuing a particular branch, there are so many advances happening that every PG branch offers you good futures if you are dedicated enough. There are umpteen examples on the other side: doctors who got their desired specialties but never did anything significant after that, other than customary routine. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
De-stressing
I am sure that in this very hall, there are beautiful dancers, painters, far better authors than myself, speakers, and artists of infinite ability. I think I should also say some potential models. But you will give up all that art and beauty within yourself, lost in the heavy duty career of being a doctor.
One absolute essential for every medico is a sure-shot de-stressing mechanism. We are all destined to face suffering, poverty, struggle, pain and death on a daily basis, and this takes a toll upon our minds. We tend to grow mentally old very soon. Many think that alcohol or smoking is a respite, but this is ridiculously stupid. A smart doctor knows to find his / her escape in arts, literature, family, travel and other hobbies. It is extremely essential to de-stress as your performance may be affected if you accumulate stress for long. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
What do patients want?
The best compliment for a doctor is a happy patient, and the best feeling in the world is knowing that your efforts saved a life.
A smart doctor is the one who has the reputation of making the correct diagnosis in majority of cases. A smart doctor is the one who invokes trust in a patient by being genuinely honest and compassionate. A smart doctor is the one, most of whose patients are happy, not only because their health issues are well attended, but also because they met a caring, well behaved human being.
Never think about money or anything else when consulting a patient. Think of every case as an exam case, get the most correct history, do the best clinical examination and give the patient the best treatment options. You will make enough happy money with such practice, if you are smart enough to understand what that means. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Dear friends, one thing about smartness which I learnt early in my medical career is that a senior doctor should not give very long lectures, and should end up his speech before time.
I have written many more things about the essentials of being a truly good doctor, and the glorious traditions of our noble, almost divine profession, in my book “The Doctor Gene’. If you did not get a copy outside, please email thedoctorgene@gmail.com to get your copy.
I am sure that you will all be very successful doctors, and I will be very happy if my words today help you deal with your medical life smartly. I thank you for patiently listening to me today.

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Love to you all and I wish you all the best, always!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
03.08.2016
Thank you, Mr. Yashodhan Morye and BJMC UG Student’s Council