Medicine is a craft, not an exact science. It is practiced by individuals, doctors and healthcare professionals, who yield great power. With their acquired knowledge and skills, they possess the power to heal and thereby affect the lives of many. At the same time this puts the onus on them to be accountable of their craft. The demand is massive and is no less than often walking a tight rope tethered across an abyss with no safety harness.
It’s a tough task but several still crave to be a part of this niche group and even dedicate their whole lives to it. I am one such individual who has dedicated my life to this. But I stand disheartened and worried for the future of my craft and its craftsmen. I am talking about the recent spate of reporting about the gross negligence of doctors and hospitals across the country – about how every healthcare professional is engaged in devising cunning plans to loot and mistreat, about how every death in a hospital is and can only be due to negligence, about how the field has become a business. The latest has been the suspension of Max Hospital and tarnishing of BL Kapoor Hospital in New Delhi, two of the more reputed and thriving ones in India. This along with the innumerous reports of lawsuits and defamations against healthcare professionals.
If I were not from this field myself I would be inclined to believe the existing reports and media coverage and feel aggrieved enough to chastise them and all doctors. I would feel let down, lose trust and second guess every word a doctor ever told me. I would suspect him of ill-advising me for his selfish gains at the cost of my health and of prescribing unnecessary tests and expensive medicines. I might rather seek advice from the omnipresent doctor of all times – google search.
But give it a moment and think about it, why would a person committed to work for the benefit of others ill advise or mistreat. One must understand that medicine is not like Mathematics, its not an exact science. It has evolved over thousands of years to where it is today and is rapidly evolving by the day. To err is to be human and we dedicate our lives to minimizing the “err”. There are bound to be sub optimal results for some but these are the outliers and not the a part of the massive numbers that are adequately treated and cured.
Take for example, a recent text doing the rounds about how a patient was charged over 15 lac rupees for a few days of treatment. But weren’t the patient’s attendants aware at the time of admission to the hospital that such charges can be expected to be incurred. Suppose you and I were to have tea and only had 30 rupees in our pocket but walked into a five star and landed a bill of 400 bucks. We could always argue that the tea would never cost as much as they charge but the charge is not for just the tea but also the establishment and running costs. Similarly, if a patient could not afford such expensive treatment they should consider going to a government establishment where the costs are significantly lesser.
All said and done, doctors are soft targets and are hugely exposed to the public and media eye. Give the benefit of doubt to your doctor, respect the fact that he or she is as human as you. There are a few rotten tomatoes but don’t judge the basket by the appearance of a few. This basket shall someday save your life.