11 Thursday
October 2018
The unethical doctor.

Oftentimes I meet unfamiliar people in a party and the sentence that follows introductions is “oh you’re a doctor!Once I had a terrible experience with…. hospital where they did so many tests for nothing…..” or some such negative medical experience.It has come to such a pass that in a public setting like a train compartment or a waiting room I prefer not to disclose my line of work.

Everyone has come across what they call an “ unethical doctor” so much so that “Doctors toh sab chor hain” is a sentiment one hears often! Parents of doctors find the course too tough, the journey too long, and the pay and amenities not commiserate with the effort put in; so where exactly is our “noble profession”.

I have in my address book about 2000 doctors from various specialties, some from medical college, some from the hospitals I have worked in, from ENT associations and Allergy councils as well as the Indian Medical Association. I have till date not met “The unethical Doctor” who is out to kill patients and mint money at all costs.The doctors I know do their work sincerely and are afraid of hurting their patients, they worry when patients don’t recover, or lose sleep over complications of surgery. We are trained in healing , and that’s what we do. It is a profession so definitely money has to be made,one never wishes people would become unhealthy but We do wish that when they are in poor health we can help them get better. There is a conundrum about medical tests.Indians are not happy when their tests come normal.If a patient comes with fever and we get a battery of tests done, and they are all normal , the patient blames the doctor for unnecessary tests. If the doctor wishes to wait and watch in case the fever is self limiting and the fever turns out to be something dangerous like Dengue or Swine flu the doctor is labelled incompetent and questioned why the tests were not ordered immediately.

Many patients get full body check ups done routinely when only a CBC is ordered and then blame medical treatment for being expensive. Many patients are not satisfied without an X-ray/ CT or MRI and then say Doctors take cuts for prescribing tests. Yes, I do know of many doctors who take referral for tests, but I also know many doctors who don’t. I know of hospitals which pay referral fees to doctors for IPD Patients and pay in cheque after deducting TDS; I personally find it belittling to the profession. I do not offer nor do I take referral fees of any kind. There are many Doctors like me. And on behalf of all of us, I would like to highlight that many businesses follow the same principle whether it’s architects referring interior designers, banks selling insurance; no one seems to raise an eyebrow over those.

Then there is the whole medical negligence and malpractice issue. Every procedure has potential risks and not one treatment has 100% successful results . Even taking an over the counter tablet has a 1 in 1,00,000 chance of becoming fatal. So yes, all treatments have the potential of being dangerous. The choice is in the patients hands whether to undergo a procedure or not.

Funnily enough no one talks about Judicial negligence , when cases run on for decades and justice is denied.Judges take months to ponder over judicial technicalities and then have the power to review their judgements. Doctors in an emergency setting have a few seconds to decide what best to do and are expected to have zero error in decision making. The verdict is emphatic that every death is not due to medical negligence, but some Indians have found a way out of paying medical bills, by collecting mobs, vandalising nursing homes and beating up doctors.
When a Doctor has a Jaguar or Mercedes patients comment about how many patients he has fleeced. No one says that for lawyers, chartered accountants , corporates or businessmen when those professions probably do a lot more hanky panky in their day to day life.

Recently I had a patient blaming his mother’s hip replacement surgeon for a surgery gone bad, “he just came for money, did the procedure and left”. His mother had also undergone a successful bilateral knee replacement 20 years back and both her knees were doing well, thank God. I wondered out aloud how every successful procedure is thanks to God , and every unsuccessful procedure is the fault of a greedy doctor.

Why don’t we give God all the credit, but let him also take the blame. Doctors are the most heavily insured professionals and young doctors today are hesitant to start affordable nursing homes and clinics for fear of being manhandled. CCTVs and guards act like a deterrent but add to the patients’ healthcare costs. People in the public domain must STOP giving sweeping statements against the medical profession and diminishing the trust of the public in their healthcare providers. Every day patients get well and leave the hospital but many patients also succumb to illness. In today’s age of accessible healthcare most people do not die at home, they manage to reach a nearby hospital.That doesn’t mean we have achieved immortality. Everyone who is born will die. The doctors only have to try their best.
The fight is between the disease and you; please remember, your Doctor is on your side.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon & Allergy Specialist

01 Monday
October 2018
What I have learned from Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal got highlighted in mainstream media when the Aam Aadmi Party was formed to contest Delhi elections in 2013. I read about the India against corruption movement, the massive crowds at Ram Leela Maidan, the Satyagraha, the angst of the Indian middle class raising their voices about accountability of the politicians and bureaucracy to the people who pay for their upkeep. I wondered if a common man, educated, middle class, alone, without a political background, had any chance to succeed. And he did. What happened after that is the stuff of legends, but in that election, Arvind Kejriwal proved to me and millions of others, that one person who takes a stand can make a difference.

I have volunteered in various capacities with the Aam Aadmi Party; started with fund raising, eventually ended up running the Badshahpur assembly in my clinic; helped co-ordinate the 2015 Delhi elections, Volunteered in the Delhi Dialogue Commission, was part of the Punjab Dialogue team, managed volunteers working in Punjab elections. I rejoiced in the giddy successes and have been heartbroken in the failures of the Aam Aadmi Party. I met amazing people, and befriended people with a common goal; A dream of a government that is working for the welfare of its people.

People ask for my opinion of Arvind Kejriwal. He is the most honest and brave man I have met till date. He is not afraid to say what he thinks, he has the guts to take on the most powerful people in the country, and there is nothing that can buy him. In an age where everyone has a price tag, that is really saying something.

He had the courage to quit his dream job to follow his calling. Lakhs of kids dream of studying in IIT, he achieved that dream. Thousands of youngsters spend years trying to crack the civil services exam, he joined the IRS. To leave a dream job and comfortable life, and choose years of working in Delhi slums, in and out of government offices to ease the misery of those standing in queues , could not have been easy. But this man has been able to bring a sustained relief to the people by eliminating those queues, by creating a system whereby the government brings necessary documents to their doorsteps; the first time ever in the world.

He has grit and determination. He’s undaunted by failure. He’s not afraid of being alone. He believes in himself. He’s not seeking anyone’s approval. And every time he falls, he picks himself up and rises to become bigger, better, stronger than what he was before. The nay sayers have been baying at his every mistake, calling him names never heard from public platforms, but in every heart is a deep admiration for a man who doesn’t give up.

Something within this man resonates with my belief system. I dream of a better India for my children and he is the only politician in the horizon who shares my dream. He’s working towards improving government schools, colleges, hospitals in a country whose government schools and hospitals were systemically ruined by successive governments to benefit the private sector. He’s getting audits of the private electricity companies and ensuring that electricity is the cheapest for the citizens of his state. He’s made VAT simple and a trader doesn’t need a CA to file his returns. When I see what a mess the GST has put the country’s entire small and medium sector, I see a chance of better governance. His focus on people centric policies and schemes helps me believe that we can have better governance in other states too

Why should the people of Haryana need to pay Rs 7.80 per unit for electricity when people of Delhi are paying Rs.4.50? Why should our colonies have routine power cuts when Delhi has an uninterrupted power supply? Why should our surgical patients be referred to Safdarjung or AIIMS from the Civil hospital Gurgaon when Delhi citizens are being operated within a month at their own hospitals? Why should our people be forced to spend money on private schools when Delhi government schools have smart classes, swimming pools, dedicated teachers and parent teacher meets??? We owe it to our state’s people to help get an honest government in place here as well.

Arvind Kejriwal’s dream of a corruption free India is shared by so many people, the ones who haven’t turned cynical. He helps us believe that the country can become a better place if the government working is transparent and bureaucracy is held accountable.

He gives us HOPE.
Dr Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon, Gurgaon.