Thank you, Hippocrates

Thank you, Hippocrates

Today, doctors increasingly treat lab readings instead of the patient, says a study.

One person who gets invariably intertwined throughout our life is the doctor. The medical profession has come a long way since the days of Hippocrates.

Today, thanks to swanky, hi-tech diagnostic centres no part of your body is immune from scrutiny. Unfortunately, a recent study states that doctors are increasingly treating lab readings instead of the patient.

This is when you appreciate the role of a family GP. At our GP’s clinic, I used to enjoy watching his ‘compounder’ (Alas! A dying race) working. Based on the prescription, he would reach out to various bottles on the shelf and crush the contents using a mortar and pestle.

 Finally, this would be poured into a standard bottle with a liquid agent. The compounder would then paste a strip of paper in a continuous diamond pattern to indicate the dosage. The end result would be a pinkish-red liquid which was referred to as ‘mixture’.

As a youngster, I felt envious whenever I saw any friend with a hand or leg in cast after a fracture. There was something romantic about such an accident because it meant that the person was doing something ‘brave’. My envy would get compounded when the cast was covered with autographs of friends and relatives.

My journey to become a potential doctor lasted all of two days. Towards the fag end of high school, we could select biology instead of geography. With great expectation of one day wearing a stethoscope round my neck, I enrolled for the former course. But I soon found out that studying biology was no cakewalk. Further, I was put off by the sight of creepie crawlies in bottles of chloroform. I decided that learning about equinoxes and fjords was an easier option.

People have all sorts of reasons for preferring a particular doctor or hospital. My wife insisted on giving birth to our first child in the Air Force hospital on the old airport road (Bangalore). Her preference had nothing to do with anything medical; as a youngster she had loved the cutlets served there. Anyway, as her mother was the doctor who handled the child-birth, for me it was ‘free home delivery’.

An uncle of mine is a well-known paediatrician. Naturally, both my sons were treated by him (free of charge!). He had a unique filing system. For every patient, he had a sheet of paper with the name and date of birth. He would fill in the diagnosis during each visit. All the records would go into an old bag.

He and I discussed several times about computerising the records but nothing progressed. Recently, my son took his daughter to him for a check-up. Based on my son’s date of birth, he waded into the bag and took out his old record. It seemed that over 30 years back my son too had been referred to him for the same illness!

I go once a year for a review to a venerable old physician in Jayanagar who has a hospital in his name. His no-nonsense approach suits me perfectly.