Wish you very Happy Doctors’ Day.
Doctor’s Day– July 1st is celebrated each year as Doctor’s Day in India. This day has been chosen as a mark of respect to the contributions made by late Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, who left an indelible mark on the history of the medical profession in India. July 1st was his birthday as well as the day of his demise in the year 1882 and 1962 respectively. Dr. Roy was not only a physician par excellence but also a freedom fighter, a leader and Chief Minister of West Bengal for 14 years.
Changing Time in Medical Practice: In today’s world, sadly doctors do not hold the same place of respect as they did during the time of Dr. B. C. Roy and there is a steadily declining mutual trust, and erosion of the doctor-patient relationship. The society, medical practice pattern, the cost of medical treatment and laws to govern medical practice are changing and as doctors, we should be aware of how to respond to these changes and take measures to reinforce and strengthen the unique relationship between the doctor and patient.
Eroding Doctor-Patient Trust: Doctors are facing several challenges in India in this era of consumerism in health care (growing population, poor facilities provided by the Govt. run hospital, less GDP/budget for health, the rising cost of treatment and low health insurance coverage, etc). All these changes are contributing to poor patient satisfaction, eroding doctor-patient trust and increasing incidence of violence against doctors. Patients often complain that doctors are proud, indifferent, do not give them expected to care, take hefty fees, are dominating and confuse them with a lot of medical jargon. Doctors are also bitter about the increasingly aggressive attitude of patients, who are willing 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. Sometimes these accusations may go to the extreme with patients accusing doctors of willful misconduct or perform unwarranted surgery etc. and doctors accusing patients and attendants of roughing up doctors only because of medical complications, which sadly are an integral part of medical practice. This scenario is not good for society at all as hospitals and clinics are supposed to be safe havens for the treatment and care of the sick and diseased, and we can’t afford to let them turn into battlegrounds.
Doctor, Heal Thyself: There is increasing frustration and psychosocial health problems among doctors. On Doctor’s day, it is time to revisit the biblical proverb, “Doctor, heal thyself.” Due to long working hours, delayed settlement, increased incidence of violence against doctors. Most of the medical students undergo a long and arduous training and very little rewards even after this grueling 10-15 year long training period. Other professions are far more lucrative in comparison and less stressful. Mostly the children of very successful doctors are also reluctant to join the medical field because of the extremely long studies and the long hours of work with no time for personal life on a daily basis. Most of us have read the famous article- WHY I WILL NEVER ALLOW MY CHILD TO BECOME A DOCTOR IN INDIA.
The Good News: Of course, the decline in trust and values is a global phenomenon and affects all spheres of life, and the capitalist mentality and corruption have also affected the medical profession, but we should not generalize these negative qualities. We still have many good doctors who sacrifice their sleep and family life every day to care for the sick at odd hours. For every case of alleged medical negligence, there are thousands of cases each day, where the doctors have helped save many lives and relieved patients of pain and sickness. Doctors also need to adjust to the heightened patient expectations in a changing society and make every effort to improve the communication between doctors and patients and to keep it pleasant. Doctor is a healer, who reduces the pain, anxiety, and fears in and around the people. The literature on doctor-patient trust suggests that a patient’s health or recovery depend in part on the doctor-patient relationship. We all doctors should do our best to reinforce and strengthen the unique relationship between the doctor and patient, reminding ourselves an important component of Hippocratic Oath – and that is to ‘keep the good of the patient as my highest priority’.
Take-Home Message: Let us all resolve on Doctor’s Day to look inwards and try and improve whatever we can and urge the Government to do its bit like availability of better medical facilities, increase allocation of GDP on health and improving the infrastructure and facilities of public hospital, health insurance coverage to the needy people, etc. Also, an important point for society to remember that doctors are also just professionals and let us not expect them to remain untouched by all the capitalist changes around them. Doctors should also remember that despite all our problems, patients are often more troubled than us and may not behave reasonably due to their anxiety at such times. The doctor–patient relationship deserves our serious attention and protection during the ongoing dangerous time of violence against doctors.
Here is a video by Dr. Vidushi: Is Medical Profession in India at Crossroads?
Dr. Vidushi Sharma, MD (AIIMS), FRCS (UK)
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