Much is made these days about how callous doctors have become. How selfish and arrogant and dis-engaged they are from their patients.They charge exhorbitant fees and pay only passing attention to their patients’ conditions. They get rich while the poor patients suffer.
All of that is true. Partly. It describes many doctors I know. In fact, in a general sense, it describes a lot of people I know. So I have concluded two things:
1. I should get to know better people.
2. Doctors are human. And they are a part of the same society we all are. They have the same qualities and the same faults that anyone else has.
Now I have to admit that I am a little biased. I myself am a doctor. But my biased view also gives me a very close look at many of my colleagues who work very hard to get it right. As a pathologist I regularly interact with several doctors in a day. Most of the doctors I talk to are not only interested in their patients’ diagnosis, they are also deeply moved by it. They try hard to get it right. They are by no means perfect. But they are still a lot better than you might think.
Lately a doctor’s life has become rather dangerous. Every patient and every case has the potential to explode, and doctors find themselves living on the edge. Every day patients threaten their doctors with ‘media’ and ‘Geo.’ Just yesterday a patient threatened to break windows in my lab because he thought his results were incorrect. It has become common practice to cite ‘negligence’ by the doctor whenever a patient dies. Regardless of medical facts and circumstance, the cause of death in far too many cases these days is ‘the doctor.’ Never mind that the patient was 78 years old and had terminal cancer. Or that the patient was brought to the doctor in a critical condition, past the point of no return.
A few weeks ago a highly respected critical care physician was beaten up by the attendants of a deceased patient. And I am not talking about pushing and shoving. He and his junior doctor and his nurse and the ICU attendant were all beaten up. It was 2 in the morning, and the doctor had been called in to the hospital in the middle of the night because the patient was considered critical. The doctor was at the bedside when the patient died. The doctor did all he could, but he could not arrange a miracle. And that was the fault for which he and his staff were all physically abused.
As a doctor, as a Pakistani, as a person, I think this is utterly disgusting. I know that there are many sides to many stories, but aren’t some things off the table. Aren’t some things too extreme. When did we become so ‘jaahil.’