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Declining Medical Trust

Declining Medical Trust

Mutual trust between patients and doctors that used to be the hallmark of doctor-patient relationship is getting eroded fast. Both sides share the blame. While patients often complain that doctors are proud, indifferent, do not care, take hefty fees, dominating and confuse them with a lot of medical jargon; doctors are also bitter about the increasingly aggressive attitude of patients, who are willing and ready to fight at the drop of a hat, do not respect doctors or their work, always blame doctors for everything without understanding the disease and its consequences. Many call even a normal fee of the doctors as loot.  Sometimes these accusations may go to the extreme with patients accusing doctors of willful misconduct or perform unwarranted interventions or surgery etc. and doctors accusing patients and attendants of being impolite, abusive, roughing up doctors, burning hospital property because of medical complications or death, which sadly are integral parts of medical practice. The hospitals and clinics are supposed to be safe havens for the treatment and care of the sick and diseased, and one can’t afford to let them turn into battlegrounds between the hospital staff and aggrieved attendants of the patients. For every case of alleged medical negligence, there are thousands of cases each day, where the doctors have helped save many lives and relieve patients of pain and sickness. Media need not sensationalize every medical complication as a malpractice. In a case where a doctor tried to save a child’s life by giving her own blood, but did not succeed was attacked by the crowd on the one hand and his career blemished by the case of negligence filed in the court. Doctor is not a guarantor of health or life, he is just a professional to administer treatment to the best of his ability and give care to the best of his knowledge.


Doctors’ burnout is common


Besides the stress of lack of faith by the community, the working hours of most doctors are grueling and work environment, highly stressful. A medical career means that you’ve invested your blood, sweat, tears and resources in a field that is challenging and constantly reinventing itself and progressively unproductive and punishing.

Starting a clinic is like scraping together a start-up. You lose track of sleep, food or anything that’s not connected to medicine. And you are constantly surrounded by families who are worried and sometimes even frustrated or disgruntled or violent. Stress starts taking a toll on the doctor and consuming his life. Stress, very soon, leads to burn out. Burn out starts showing its colors with irritability, depressed moods, poor concentration, avoidance of work, resorting to substance abuse, exhaustion, sleep disorders and more. A doctor needs to know that his mental health is in line with his physical health and that his job requires him to be in the best of shape. If doctor stops feeling like one and sees stress eating into self, consider options like psychotherapy and counseling.


Essential traits required in a budding doctor


The doctor must be self critical, accepting nothing without proof and be willing to be self examined and corrected if found wanting. A doctor must also be communicative.  Poor communicator never really soothes the pain.  What has led to degradation of the image of the doctor in the society, it is the image that the physician has inadvertently created in the society that he is above criticism. The elegance of a well dressed physician creates a good first impression that counts. A good doctor is made much before he or she passes the graduation exam.

One should realize that the medical field is a profession and not an industry. This profession involves faith, comfort, confidence and happiness both, between the patient and the physician. The very word “Profession” denotes a point focus attention of all Human senses viz. visual (observing), auditory (listening), gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell), tactile senses (feeling), the rational thinking (reasoning) and the extraordinary sensory perception. Albert Einstein had said: “I fear the day when technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”. Inquiring the patients  history empathetically, examining them thoroughly, before subjecting them to tests, bring comfort, faith, confidence and happiness to the patients and in turn the physicians gain great respect. It involves three components: the concept, the methodology and the application. Concepts and their applications can be learned only at the bedside from medical teachers. Adopt these teachers as role models with due respect, for without whom one cannot acquire professionalism. One can memorize the methodology but to understand the concepts and master the application one needs the teachers guidance. You learn the art of observing that is invisible, listen that is not audible and even feel that does not exist. Without good teachers’ help application and perfection are not possible. Apply logic too. One who loves clinical skills and wish to master the art, automatically imbibe the medical ethics and well protected from the legal clutches. Hard work is the mother of good luck. Feel proud to be a true professional. The Indian culture keeps everybody good but the present clueless education spoils the Indian system and its functioning. The medical profession is slowly getting metamorphosed into an industry. The man is first; his mind second and last the machine. If one depends on the laboratory machines they face two-fold risk. First, the machine can be at fault and second the man behind that machine can also be at fault. Then the values may be analyzed incorrectly and many a times the abnormal does not require correction. Depend more on the clinical skills, less on investigations.


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