Friday, October 7, 2022

Dear doc, please cool down!


It is unfortunate that doctors and management of hospitals and clinics are being compelled to raise their voices against alleged misconduct, vandalism and rumour-mongering from some members of the community that they serve.

Some recent incidents of uproar, ruckus and vandalism in hospitals caused by relatives of coronavirus victims has prompted this stern response from health professionals.

Coronavirus has come as a big challenge for all of us and besides causing fear of ‘cytokine storm’ in the body, it is also bringing out a lot of negativity in mind and society. From depression and anxiety to suicidal tendencies to a feeling of general helplessness, all malaises of mind are on the rise too.

To see healthcare professionals in a dishevelled state in such a critical stage is painful. No one wants to see his or her doctors’ hands and mind unsteady when he or she needs their help most.

However, taking everything into account, it seems doctors and management of hospitals and clinics are going overboard in their response.

In a country where the railway minister is expected to resign for a dirty toilet seat and the prime minister is cursed for a delayed flight almost every day, it is too whimsical to expect that any relative who has lost a near and dear one to an unknown, novel, incurable and unpredictable coronavirus will leave a thankyou note for the efforts made by doctors inside the ward and ICU without even knowing what efforts were made by them.

It is understandable that doctors want a response like Abhijit Mukherjee’s when his father late former President Pranab Mukherjee died.

But for receiving such a response, the relatives must have the information and assurance of the same level.

It is sad but true that the need to keep relatives informed, involved and to help them make informed decisions has always been overlooked by healthcare community in India. The reason is that it is felt that most relatives are not in a position to understand the technicalities involved and take an informed decision.

Relatives are most hated and unnecessary adjuncts of the Indian healthcare system.

However, most of the problems and dissatisfaction is caused by information gap. If relatives are not updated and are not involved in decision making during the treatment and care process, any untoward eventuality can come as a shock and a case of negligence to them.

This is a country where doctors, even before allopathy arrived here, have been treated as gods. Even today, there are doctors who are virtually gods for their patients.

On a lighter note, Indians do have a tendency to convert anyone or any force, that makes them feel powerless, confused and clueless, into gods.

Most of the problems can be broken down to the fact that there is no elaborate arrangement in place in any of the hospitals to disseminate information to patients’ relatives about treatment and status of the patient. This is treated as some unnecessary chore that is required to send the curious relatives with unceasing questions away and a job that any nurse or staff can handle.

The irony is that even the relatives of doctors, who unfortunately succumb to the virus, have the same level of dissatisfaction with healthcare facilities. Around 200 persons have died of Corona in the city. Most families have accepted the deaths as inevitable and did not create any problems.

Most of the times we keep trying to find faults in people, when the fault actually lies in the system.

The community has not changed. It will always remain the same – blaming something, someone for a calamitous eventuality and crediting something, someone for any miraculous event that happens around it.

However, the same community also has a tendency to make a Mother out of a Teresa and to bow down to a statue standing in a corner in a park.

Dear doctor, please do remind yourself that you live in a country that is perhaps too emotional and has a tendency to assign everything untoward to providence. And then compare that with those countries where patients are very informed but have a tendency to sue their doctors at the drop of a hat. After all, more than one-third of the doctors in US are sued at least once during their career.

The events of this universe are all acts of god and manifest differently in different parts of the world. Learn to accept them with a thankyou note.

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