Monday, August 05, 2013

Are patients always nice to doctors in practice?

The title of today's post came to me as a sort of reflection in reaction to obnoxious behaviour by one of the patients who I saw yesterday night. The specifics of the case were as follows: I was called by the ER resident to the hospital at about mid-night on Saturday/Sunday. The indication was to see a 4-year old spastic child who had come with cough, had a feeding tube in his nose, and was found to have slightly low oxygen levels in the blood (as detected by an instrument applied to the thumb). 

The child was brought by his parents from a village that is over 65 km from Al Muwayh. They wanted the feeding tube changed and needed medication for the cough. The father was an overprotective person who was vigilant about what was being done to his son, and kept reminding me of the various steps in the management of the child. And, mind you, he had no politeness about him. He grew increasingly impatient while I tried to clear the child's throat and nose with a suction machine. The oxygenation levels immediately jumped from the mid-80's to about 97%, which is a very healthy level. Next, I proceeded to remove the old feeding tube and began to insert a new one through the same nostril. The father gruffly indicated that he wanted me to pass the tube through the other nostril, thank you.

However, there was some bone or cartilage that prevented the easy passage of the tube through the other nostril - and this happened, not once, but twice. Whereupon, the father, incensed at my "inefficiency", abused me and raised his hand to hit me, but his wife stopped him. He then refused to allow me to continue the management, and I had no option but to leave the child and complain about his bad behaviour to the ER Manager. The latter, I am sorry to say, did not intervene on my behalf, and almost apologised to the patient's father, who deserved no apology. He (the manager) then asked me to suggest someone else in my place to come and pass the feeding tube. I spoke to the anesthetist on duty, and the latter then came and passed a new tube through the SAME NOSTRIL  the old one had been removed from.

The incident had an adverse effect on me, naturally, as no patient had ever abused me in the Kingdom. I am sharing this incident only to highlight this one incident; no reader should think that this is the NORMAL way patients' relatives behave with the doctors. In fact, the indigent population of Al Muwayh has the greatest respect for the hospital and its staff, doctors and nurses both. 

I have had many patients actually prefer me over my colleague, just as some patients have preferred my colleague over me ... which is an acceptable thing, really, as such preferences exist all over the world. Patients, after having known me for over 18 months now, are friendly, invite me to their homes for breaking the fast, appreciate my diagnostic skills, and speak out their problems candidly before me. Hence, no, I have not normally been a victim of abuse from crude patients, and it has been a privilege to know my usual patients and their families.

If there are doctors, or if the readers have experiences of their own to relate to me, please do comment in the section below, and share the experiences with me and the other readers of this blog. Thank you so much.

1 comment:

Chand said...

Such behavior reeks of overt racism and disrespect, nothing less. It is clearly uncivilized and unacceptable.