Help your doctor help you, a doctor's plea

For several decades, through the 1950s to 80s, the most common ‘breed’ of doctors was the ‘Family Physician’. Specialists were few, super specialists were found in Metros. The family physician was not only the custodian of the health, but also a philosopher, a guide and much like a family friend, generations of a family would follow the same doctor lineage as children of doctors invariably became doctors too.

Indians being talented, as a race have produced a huge number brilliant Specialist Doctors. In fact, in the English speaking countries it’s common to find 20% of most specialist teams being of Indian origin.

The biggest challenge for these modern doctors is to live up to the expectations of the people. Nobody wants to die. Even those who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there! There is a sense of feeling that if we reach the patient to the hospital alive, no matter how critical the condition may be, he should return home hale and healthy

When an undesirable outcome occurs, most feel the need to affix cause/responsibility on to someone or something. For many the concept of God steps in here. But a few people like to affix blame on something more tangible, like humans! Doctors become the unfortunate target. “Surely there must have been a short coming at the hospital else the outcome would have been different!” is a sentiment noticed in varying degrees. While some go on to the next phase of grief response, that of acceptance, some linger in this ‘affixing blame’ stage for days, weeks, even years and most often they suffer internally.

Doctor’s duty is to do the right thing at that right time where the patient need be attended or treated, it’s a critical time for the patients but a very crucial time for the doctors. I remember a saying “Our attempt may be a failure, but there is no failure in our attempt”. Even the best of attempts, quite frequently can’t save a life.

Another unreasonable expectation is to have the same doctor at all times, 24/7 beside in the Critical Care too! Even if it’s possible, it’s not desirable, as doctors being human, when sleep deprived, are not at their quickest of reflexes. It’s always the team at play.

You may see one doctor as single point of communication, but there is usually a huge team in the background quietly at work.

“When your dear one recovers, you thank the Lord, but incase if he dies, you blame the doctor” The sentiments hold good even today. Have some mercy! Help your doctor help you.

Trust is a two way street. Once your doctors feel the trust, he will be at his best.  The next generation is watching all this, they would rather take up an easier vocation to make a living than becoming doctors and we as a nation will have to pay for it dearly in the decades to come!

- Dr S B Vikram

Managing director

Vikram hospital

Mysore

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