Wednesday, 21 February 2018

When doctors need emergency treatment!

The recent incidents of reputed private hospital declaring dead a baby along with its stillborn twin when it was actually alive or another one overcharging the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient at an average of over Rs 1 lakh per day, have once again raised the alarm bell that all may not be well with the tribe of healers. The prevailing sickness may be much more critical than what is assumed and must need an emergency treatment!

Such incidents justify the narrative that some doctors might be fishing in the pond of clueless customers. The scale of suspicion might be exaggerated, but there is no denying that the lure for money is making doctors happy when they see sickness! But it will be too cruel to cast all doctors in one mould. There are doctors who heal. There are doctors who consider a pep-talk session with the patient equally, if not more, important as the medicine they prescribe. For me, there are two types of doctors. One spiritual and other non-spiritual. Not in the sense of being religious, but being holistic in seeing life.

The first type honours the power of the spirit and aspires to become a part of its healing mechanism. They aren't rigid and procedure-driven. They take a holistic view of the patient's condition and are willing to adopt a multidimensional approach to heal it. Such doctors need to be supported by a providing an ecosystem that encourages a systematic integration of the traditional and more holistic approaches like Ayurveda into the healthcare system.

The other type sees illness as their opponents that needed to be outsmarted or out-procedured. If their's will be done, nobody will ever die. They call it alive as long as they are breathing, even if it's ventilator-induced. Sometimes, they conduct emergency surgeries on "dead bodies". They care very little about wellness. They just love to handle interesting cases and often forget no patient ever wants to be an interesting case.

Despite the ugly head of the black sheep rearing more often, the former tribe is not extinct yet. But there are enough pointers to suggest that the rapid rise in C-Section deliveries, spinal fusion surgeries and the like might be driven to some extent by doctors' financial incentives. Experts say that more than half of the spinal fusions performed globally could be without good reasons. Remember the ‘Operation Jonk' expose in 2014 that suggested some doctors earn as high as 40-50 percent commission on the tests being prescribed by them!

But it's not just money though. There is a huge problem of approach and orientation. As doctors become more and more specialised, the sphere of possibilities has been curtailed. To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Like that, surgeons like to solve medical problems by cutting, just as physicians first seek solutions with drugs. And they don't see anything beyond. Their vision becomes so narrowed that they can't see illness beyond the problem of pain. They end up becoming problem fixers rather than healers.

And as they become more and more worldly, the stress level also seems to be catching up and eating into their commitment to value life. It may be time for doctors to take some treatments to free themselves of stress and maintain a centred and equanimous mind. Doctors with a meditative mind is a good news for patients as they more likely to have a stronger intuitive power. They are more likely to arrive at a more precise diagnosis, and with fewer tests and imaging. Probably, the tribe of healers need a deep-breathing therapy and a dose of Sudarshan Kriya and the like.

A concoction of medication and meditation may just be the right prescription the doctors should be writing for themselves. And for the patients, they have to just do a scan of the doctor before he could wheel them in for an expensive scan!

(The author is a social commentator who posses a pair of prejudice-free eyes and is free from envy and jealousy.)

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