What ails uncaring doctors?

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DEC 11 — You sit in front of the doctor. With a sympathetic look, much like a puppy starving for attention, you hope the doctor comforts you.

Without eye contact, the doctor asks what you are suffering from.

You reply you have the package — flu, cough and a slight fever.

The doctor finally looks up, scribbles something and asks: “Is two days MC enough?”

You walk out of the consultation room — having spent exactly four minutes and 32 seconds with the doctor. You listen to unqualified people tell you about drugs which they themselves are clueless about, pay the sum due and head home.

Typical isn’t it?

Thankfully, the family doctor I visit is the complete opposite. Having suffered a stiff neck recently, I was asked to sit, she recorded my blood pressure, pressed my shoulders and checked my eyes. She gave me a solid 15-minute lecture on maintaining a proper diet, exercising regularly and taking it easy at work before allowing me to leave the room.

And she described my prescription to me — in detail!

Many are not amused by the standard of healthcare provided by general practitioners but feel there is little they can do about it.

“I visited the doctor hoping to get a blood test but after poking my arm and my left hand five times, the doctor gave up and said she could not find my veins. Instead, she blamed my veins and said I should exercise my arms,” said an aunt recently.

“But how is it that the medical assistants at the local government clinics are able to draw my blood with ease?” she then asked.

A friend, who injured his knee, related his trip to a panel clinic not too long ago.

“I busted my knee during futsal. I went to the clinic and the doctor, without even bothering to look at my leg, prescribed me paracetamol. I was dumbfounded and immediately sought a second opinion.

“It turned out to be something more serious and I was asked to stay at home for a week. Had I just relied on the advice of the first doctor, I bet I would be walking on one leg today.”

A doctor, who also happens to be a close friend, cringed when I told him I was prescribed amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, more commonly known by its generic name Augmentin, for a bad throat.

“It depends on the severity of your sore throat but Augmentin is not a first-choice drug as you do not want the patient to develop resistance against it.

“Younger doctors from major cities are quite aggressive as they tend to prescribe stronger medication in hope of delivering instant results.”

He also touched on specialists who it turns out, aren’t that very special.

“What is the meaning of specialist? Would a doctor, after having undergone a two-week course in a specific area, be considered a specialist? Who regulates them? It looks like everyone is a specialist these days,” he lamented.

This is perhaps a question best answered by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC). According to the council’s website, its principal aim is “to ensure the highest standards of medical ethics, education and practice, in the interest of patients, public and the profession through fair and effective administration of the Medical Act 1971”.

However, some things need not see the intervention of the MMC.

Perhaps doctors could be more sensitive to their  patients — physically and  emotionally.

Being a little more attentive could save someone’s life. That pain in someone’s back may not just be a muscle pull, but a sign of a possible heart attack; or that constant tingling feeling in someone’s hands may actually be a nerve problem.

There are outstanding doctors and they should set an example for the rest.

Generally, doctors need to remind themselves of the Hippocratic Oath, especially the final line which reads:

“If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practise my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.”

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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