IS YOUR DOCTOR A CAD?

Anupama’s mother fell down in the bathroom and broke her hip. She was rushed to a good hospital in her city. An orthopedic surgeon, who took up her case for surgery, put in a metal screw to fix the fracture. When Anupama asked him whether her mom would have any long-term complications, he replied, “Oh, she shouldn’t have problems for five years at least!”
Apprehensive now, she asked him what would happen after five years. The doc remarked, “I don’t think she will live for longer than that!”
The shocked daughter now goes around bad-mouthing the doctor.

rogue-doc.jpg
(pic credit: http://www.smh.com.au)

Dr. G, a surgeon, operated on a patient for gallstones. The patient developed jaundice soon after, because a stone was obstructing the bile duct. Though this can happen, in this case the surgeon knew the diagnosis even before the operation. “Why didn’t you fix this at the time of the surgery—after all, this is related to gallbladder surgery?” the relatives asked. The surgeon shooed them off with the remark, “You have paid me to do a gallbladder surgery. The budget you people came with was enough only for that, not for a bile duct surgery. So why are you complaining now?”

Yet another surgeon tried to break the Guinness record for the maximum number of surgeries done in a day, and operated on 50 patients in a few hours. As a result of this, he got enormous publicity in his city, had a big spurt in practice, and made more money. His patients, though, paid a small price. One patient died of undetected post-operative bleeding, because the surgeon was too busy trying to break the record, and around ten more patients got bad infections in the wounds, because our man had not given adequate time for instrument sterilization. Time, after all, is everything when it comes to making or breaking records.

When one such patient’s husband asked him why her wound got infected, the great man shouted at him, “Your wife is dirty, and that is why her wound got infected. Ask her to take baths properly!” The humbled and humiliated patient never raised her voice, and suffered daily dressings for months, taking tons of costly antibiotics.

In modern India, patients are asking hard questions at doctors. Most of the latter are trying to be reasonable with them, but the worst are getting away.

A urologist I know cannot operate. He has a trained assistant who operates, while this great specialist advertises like a sexologist or astrologer and manages to maintain a brilliant private practice. The division of responsibilities is clear. Surgery: unqualified but trained assistant. Business, fronting, marketing, etc.: qualified, but highly unskilled urologist.
This gent once had a tough time with a man whose father died after a kidney stone surgery that led to massive bleeding, re-operation, ICU stay, and an expensive death. The urologist was unfazed at the phone calls asking for compensation and threatening litigation. He coolly paid just five hundred rupees (around $12) to a local thug, and asked him to set fire to the thatched dwelling of the caller. “House on fire, this man will not have the time to bother me. He will be too busy fending for his own problems”, confided the morally upright doctor over cocktails at his club. Problem solved.

In India, achieving the impossible is only an issue if your means or moral boundaries are limited. Without the hindrance of these, one can get away with blue murder, especially if you are in a position of trust. It is both a fortune and a misfortune that doctors are still trusted today. In the years to come, they promise to stand beside politicians, lawyers and policemen in the rogues’ gallery of untrustworthy and parasitic institutions we cannot do without.
So, just check: is your doctor a cad?

22 responses to “IS YOUR DOCTOR A CAD?

  1. life of an Indian citizen is cheap!

    nice writeup shocking but not unexpected.

  2. Timely article doc.

    regards,

  3. Pingback: Patient as a consumer-Consumer Protection Act 1986 « Xntric pundits

  4. Very shocking and scary. My goodness!

  5. This is just one of the problems with implementing a free market where information asymmetries are enormously in favour of one party (the doctors).

    I would change that statement and say that “this is one of the problems of an under-developed market that has all the blights of a mixed economy”. Agree with the information asymmetry.

  6. Hey Doc,

    What lead to such a situation where Doctors are not trustworthy?

    Is it because of the deteriorating ethics in the Profession or is the education system to be blamed?

    Voracious Blog Reader

    VBR,
    I am very clear in linking the lack of ethics in the medical profession to a corresponding lack in our society.
    This amorality of society is, in some simple and complex ways, a side effect of a socialist society that breeds contempt for rules and corruption as a communication medium.

  7. Very scary. I’m going to make it a point to consult you before putting my life in some doctor’s hands.

    You do that, Marc, though it is unlikely you will need one anytime soon, young man that you are!
    🙂

  8. This is indeed the reality.
    Doctors have become money magnets.
    All they care about is how much the patient can pay them.
    Not to mention many of them have fake degrees.
    There is so much corruption that I do not see a solution in having a universal insurance scheme wherein the insurance companies can research and send patients to able doctors.

    Madhuri,
    Insurance companies are yet another story…
    Another day!
    🙂

  9. Pingback: Most doctors are trustworthy, but … | DesiPundit

  10. I echo mahendra – he said the exact same words thet were on my mind on reading this!

    Thanks, Arun.

  11. The Guinness thing is shocking… people will do practically anything to have their name in print next to a large number. But that the hospital allowed the surgeon to try and break the record (or did it?) is absurd and immoral on multiple levels.

    I have faith in your un-cad-diness, though.

    Bancheese,
    I am surprised you don’t know that the word is ‘cadlessness‘!
    😀

  12. Reminds me of a scene from a Telugu movie, Tagore. The movie is about a person who fights against corruption, and there is a scene where Chiranjeevi (the ‘hero’) brings a dead person to a corporate hospital, telling the doctors that his brother fell unconscious. The doctors “treat” him, assure the hero that everything is okay and tell him the patient would need some surgery. They fleece the hero, and finally tell him that his brother expired inspite of their best efforts. The hero then pulls out the patient’s death certificate, issued by a govt. hospital!

    Had to face a similar experience when my mom damaged one of her fingers very badly, thanks to a defective mixie. The doctor prescribed a HIV test (only Rs. 400, said the doctor) to suture the wound. I had to fight with the doctor and finally he agreed that the test is not necessary.

    Completely agree with prax, Indian life is very cheap 😦

    Harsha,
    Tell me about it!
    HIV, Chest XRay, ECG, Echo, full blood profile, executive health check-ups… the list of rip-offs barely begins here….

  13. This is scary. There are very experienced and capable doctors in the Govt hospitals but post operative care is bad, the doctors are overworked and rude and hygeine bad. In the private hospitals the doctors are capable but not all the time. If the doctor is consciensious you are safe because the facilities are good the equipment is excellent but God forbid if the doctor is too ambitious you might be under the knife even if you don’t need it.
    A friend of mine told me that doctors in private hospitals are accountable for the revenue they generate. The reason is they cost too much to the hospital.

  14. Doc,
    How about the both of us start a digg.com style, voting enabled social network that lets the public list such offenders? A searchable public database of medical malpractice incidents?

    Ashok,
    Now you leave me wondering if you are joking or serious….

  15. Ashok: That reminds me of Harsha’s Mutiny idea of having a Corruption Index for Indian politicians and social figures where everyone could anonymously enter their own experiences with corruption against such figures…

    While ‘digg.com’ suits such a motive well, perhaps ‘unearth.com’ would suit better?

  16. i am doctor, and i am not a cad. hence doctors are not cads.

    see doctors are so brilliant and the general public is not thats why the general public should not be given all information freely.

    what city are you in anyway?

    schizo

    Schizo,
    As we are not possessed of that extra-terrestrial intelligence you seem to be gifted with, many of us couldn’t get you. So, please do expound on what you were trying to say. It’s free.

  17. Mahendra,
    I meant a site that is architecturally and functionally like digg, in the sense of user generated opinions/submissions being voted on the community

    Now it sounds like you mean it…..

  18. This stuff is scary indeed! I have heard my share of horror stories some of which even get reported in newspapers, yet not much happens against the guilty.

    Krish’s idea of a website that lets people contribute their experiences and vote sounds very useful. But then again, we know voting doesnt always work (indian idol – anyone?)

  19. Very well written story. Shocking things keep happening to Indians, we simply dont care. The doctors are the worst of the lot, older genrations have revered them like gods but these days they care about the money. I say make the money but dont forget the humanity. Im posting this article to rambhai All indians need to know about these things.

  20. This is really scary Doc…. I ve heard of docs leaving their surgical tools in patient’s stomach… no idea if my doctor is a cad!!

  21. Being a student of medicine, I recognize some of these types myself. It is so scary, but so true.
    A surgeon on the faculty in our college pushes patients to get a laparoscopic surgery even when an open surgery suffices, simply because Lap surgeries make him richer. And the man isn’t ashamed to admit it in front of his own students.
    Wonder where we students have to go should we choose to practise ethically.

    Nice post.

  22. Wow! I was reading this post in my RSS feed, and at first I thought you were kidding! :o(

    That was truly a horrifying read …

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