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.
(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?