Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Can God’s Go On Strike?

“Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm”… Hippocrates.

Hippocrates of Kos, also known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. And a great philosopher too along with practicing medicines, a very rare combination. It’s the characters like Hippocrates who took medical profession to a new high by their work & that’s why their words got so much value. Why I remembered his words regarding doctors attitude because once again the medical profession has come in lime light in media. And as per the current unfortunate trend in our country, any profession or personality comes in lime light not for some noble cause or act of peace but only when something violent happens with or by the personality involved, may it be beating someone or get beaten in public! One doctor at Dhulia, a politically as well financially backward place in our State got beaten up by relatives of diseased patient & all medical professionals went on strike as protest against this incidence. I myself have at least a dozen doctors in my family & they all were reactive like many others to the issue. My cousin sister Dr. Vrinda who is Ophthalmologist i.e. doctor of eye diseases wrote below post on FB which makes me think about not just doctor’s but entire this rage generated incidences in our society which has become a common practice.

Dr. Vrinda’s FB Post:
Please read :
I receive at least 5-6 calls a day regarding medical issues unrelated to ophthalmology (my field) from friends, relatives and acquaintances. It could be for medical advice on the phone for themselves, their children or parents; to confirm the medical advice they have already received; for a reference of a good doctor; for an appointment with a busy doctor out of turn, etc etc. We do it with pleasure.
Most of my family and other good doctors also field many more such calls daily in the midst of their own practice, and their own busy lives.
In the last couple of weeks the entire doctor fraternity went through a difficult phase, they were shown in a poor light by the media. They were only agitating for basic human right to security. They were asking for implementation of laws already passed in 2010. They were asking for good governance. (Do You feel safe to be treated by a doctor who may not be alert because he is scared of being assaulted, has not slept for 36 hours or himself maybe unwell?) I did not hear of any non-Medico come out in support of the medical fraternity. Have you never met a good doctor? Have you not had an experience with a doctor going beyond his scope of duty and responsibility for you? Have you never called a doctor friend and expected them to give you complete attention and perfect advice? You were not there for those doctors but we doctors will still always be there for you!

 I think Dr. Vrinda shared, many of the fellow doctor’s feelings & its not evident just because of the likes her post got but similar expressions were there from many doctors on media, may it be news paper or TV! And then I realized this trend isn’t new as every now & then somewhere some medical professional got beaten up mostly by the patients’ relatives. Mainly the cause of this violence against the doctor are same, either the patient has been died during treatment & his relatives thinks it’s because of negligence of the doctor who was treating the patient or the patient not getting proper treatment! Well the trend started, with due respect since long back & I am not blaming anybody but the first such case of medical rage was witnessed & got wide publicity in Thane when a famous political party leader died of a heart attack during treatment for his fractured leg in August 2001, his irate supporters burned the Sunitidevi Singhania Hospital in Thane, where he died. And since then it seems to become a trend to beat up doctors as well ransack the hospital if anything goes wrong with the patient’s health.

The latest case of doctor’s bashing in Dhulia General Hospital came more in focus as the concerned doctor nearly lost his eye such was the assault & the reaction from the IMA i.e. Indian Medical Association which is apex body of all practicing doctors! As all the doctors even those which are trainees, went on strike & it caused havoc as medical service has never seen something like this. Imagine your loved one is serious & you rush him to nearby hospital & you get to know there is no doctor to treat the patient as the doctors are on strike! Sure you won’t sympathize with the doctors & so the social media was ablaze with all sorts of reactions & the matter went in court. The Hon High Court also lashed doctors that if so much is fear for your own lives then stop wearing that white coat, join immediately the service or leave the job! Well, with due respect to the courts, issue wasn’t about just strike, in no case we can afford doctors on strike but if we are unable to provide them enough protection then how we can expect errorless treatment which is possible with only a balanced  & free mind state!

I think issue is not weather strike of doctors is right or wrong neither I am claiming all hospitals or doctors gives fair treatment to the patients, the crux lays somewhere else. Let’s keep doctors issue aside a bit; read any news paper & what we read about such rage incidences? A girl has been attacked by fellow classmate just for not speaking with him, a family has been beaten on busy Karve road in Pune at evening time just for not giving side to some Bhai’s car, all around in the city numbers of cars & two wheelers parked on road are burnt down to show muscle power of some gang & many such; what all these incidences indicates? As a society our tolerance, patience whatever you call it, has gone down to lowest & for the smallest of inconvenience people feels beating up opposite person is the best way to settle the score. There are two main reasons behind this; first reason is people feel entire system has got corrupted to such level that no one believes he or she will get fair service unless you have money or some connection with authorities. For e.g. you go to any govt hospital as a common man & try getting treatment & then you will realize why people gets frustrated & scene is same with most govt agencies. And in private establishments also you need money in your pocket then only you get treatment & even in private hospital you have to have someone inside management of the hospital to get a room in time even with paying all the money is fact. And right from getting reservation in good hotel to getting a job, everywhere common man has to face humiliation & when it comes to subject as sensitive as life & death i.e. medical front then the reaction of all this frustration erupts as violence!

And the second reason for increased violent tendency in the society is there is no fear leave apart respect for the law in the minds of people. Especially those who have some money or have someone up in the system, they think they can do anything & can get away & which is true in most cases. Unfortunately we have been slowly advancing towards jungle law i.e. “jiski lathi uski bhais” means the one with muscle power will make the rules of living as per his wish. People avoid violence or taking law in hand only by two ways, one is they are matured society; they believe in justice the system gives & second is they are afraid of the entity named police which represents law & order in society. Though I have many very good friends in police force & most of them are upright officers but somewhere collectively police department for many reason has lost both i.e. respect from common man’s mind & fear from criminal  minds! At present we as a society, as a govt or as a system have been failed on every above front & that’s main reason of violence everywhere, may it be doctors’ beating or road rage cases!

Speaking about doctor’s I remember when I was in school some thirty five years back, there was a general concept to have a doctor, a teacher & a lawyer in the family, as these are supposedly considered as noble professions. The sheer logic was presence of personalities like doctor & teacher would make the younger genre of family a better human being!  Now the scene is there has to be a politician, a govt officer & a charted accountant in the family, as they can pull you out of any trouble even if you are on wrong side of the law! Somewhere the high competition to establish along with huge expenditure require for getting settle as a reputed doctor is taking toll on the so called noble medical professionals & that’s being reflected in their relations with the patients too! In my childhood there was concept of family doctor as he was really part of the family & was consulted even in family matters & not just health related issues. Long gone is family doctor concept & all we have are super specialists in various branches of medical science & all these super specialists are so busy that they don’t have got time even to smile at their patients is a fact! Then also patients use to die during treatment or suffer but no one ever imagined doubting on intentions of the family doctor, beating him was out of question! And back then there wasn’t specie named Internet of Goggle doctors; these are the people who by searching information on internet argue with the doctors about treatment he is giving. And if anything goes wrong these very net doctors are hell bent to prove how the doctor was negligent in diagnosis to treatment!

All is not that bad, there are still Dr Vikas Amte here who has dedicated his life along with three generations has dedicated their lives to treat poor people in rural areas. And then even in Pune we have a young lady doctor Ms. Aparna Deshmukh who runs a hospital as well old age home for the poor old people in the society on her cost. Then there is Dr. Sunil Deshpande who along with his wife Nirupama Deshpande runs a Bamboo Kala Kendra in deep forests of Melghat for upbringing the backward tribes & treats them free. My own family doctor Dr. Uday Gokhale is one of the most respected names in profession, who never asks for unnecessary tests & still most of the time in bold letters write on my prescription ”No Medicine”!  There are many real good doctors around who still serve the medical field as profession & not as business!

On this background will share one incidence; few years back on one of my evening walks I saw a lady walking ahead along  with her small boy, he must be some ten years old. By their looks I could guess the lady must be working on some construction site. The boy was complaining stomach pain & crying. The poor mom was assuring him that they are going to doctor. On way there was some private clinic & the boy said “aai to bagh doctor” (Mom see there is doctor). On this the mother replied "Te aaplyasarkhya lokansathi thodich aahe aapan muncipalitychya dawakhanyat jau pudhe” (Means these doctors are not for poor people like us we will go to govt hospital which is ahead at some distance). I heard all their dialogues as I was walking parallel to them rather had slowed down to listen also. I was so numb, sad, shocked whatever you call, as what kind of country we live in where people can’t afford medical treatment for human life, even for the young generation which our PM calls future of this country! I stopped them & gave some money for treatment to the lady saying take it as contractor’s payment, as she was not ready to accept the money as she wasn’t a beggar!  This incidence I won’t forget as still that boy’s face looking at doctors board  & the mothers reply has saved on hard disk of my mind & that’s shows condition of medical facilities in our country for which right from doctor to system called govt all are responsible! Still in our society medical assistance has not reached to all levels like it has been in western countries & it’s not just doctors but each of us who must take that responsibility.

Finally, I think any relation is to be worked out from both sides & Doctor-Patient’s relation is also no exception to this rule. If a doctor has to understand nobility of the medical profession & act accordingly then the patients too needs to believe their doctor & respect him or her. As in a society where every relation is losing its value this is probably the last bond showing some signs of civilization among us; if we lose the belief in doctors then sure we won’t believe in the Gods also anymore!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.


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