Sunday, November 16, 2014

Attack on doctors. Is the basic flaw that we are all getting increasingly judgemental about everything?

It started with Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate's episode on Medical Malpractice. The bashing of doctors. Well it obviously happened earlier too, but this was a big trigger. For patients (all health care receivers, sick or healthy) to start discussing how terrible doctors were. And for doctors to become anti Aamir Khan. Both may have been right within their perspectives. What are the long term outcomes of such episodes. I honestly do not know the patient perspective, but every now and then I see a doctor's post in Facebook, with an update about something that was not a doctor's fault, and it almost always ends with "Now Aamir Khan - where are you?" The hurt and hostility is high.

For those who do not know me, I am not a doctor. But I do work a lot with health professionals. I teach them how to stay updated with medical literature. I have, over about 20 years got to know about their lives in depth. I can reasonably confidently say that any lay person who does not have a doctor in their immediate family would have no real idea about what it takes to become a doctor. And almost always, when one of them makes derogatory or even generalized negative comments about doctors, I give him or her a gist of the toughest parts of a medical student's / doctor's life. And almost always the person's jaw drops.

The recent episode of the sterilization deaths is another incident that brings up muddy waters. The media bashing doctors. And the doctors retaliating. When it was first reported, I paid practically no attention to the news. I must add, that in the last few years, I have more or less stopped reading newspapers. I cannot stand the mass-negativity and the "news for the sake of news" items that are being published (predominantly rapes, murders, violence, cheating and the like). I believe that the news I really need to know will find me. Either via my husband or through social media. Anything else I need to know in context is traceable through the Internet (being a search specialist helps!). Or again through social networking, where I ask and get an answer.

When there was one of the shows on TV where the issue was being hotly debated, I still did not know enough. In fact my husband actually thought I was nuts, not keeping abreast of something about the beneficiaries of my work. And then, the Facebook statuses of several medicos gave me answers - all linked to resources that mentioned the faulty medicines. By then the media had bashed the doctor concerned. Badly. Okay - later they talked about the faulty medicines. The 'bashed doctor' may become old news. But some things have long term repercussions.

I am not going into the complete details of this episode of the mass sterilizations. In fact when I write this post my focus is not so much about doctors and patients, but more about about what I believe is a common trait among most of us, that leads to such situations in any context. And that trait is...

Most of us are judgemental most of the time!

I say this after a few months of observation. Sometime back a friend on Facebook challenged himself and others. "Can we stay without a) complaining and b) being judgemental for one or  more days"? I started observing myself. I noted that without realizing I was being judgemental very very often. I may not have always verbalized it, but I still was. I have been working on it ever since.

How does this relate to Satyamev Jayate or the current sterilization fiasco? Aamir Khan - if he had only presented facts and asked for opinions *may not* have raised so much animosity. He was being judgemental (and I felt that in this show he was being more judgemental than in the other episodes, but that is my observation and not my judgement). In the current scenario - the media jumped on to being judgemental, with headlines like "Botched sterilizations claim 56 lives" or with details that nailed the doctor. Earlier in another case a lawyer made a comment "We have all at some time suffered in the hands of doctors". Just yesterday, I heard a milkman tell our building watchman about how he had to spend a lot of money going to a doctor for a fever. And he said (in Hindi) - "I wonder how doctors are made today"!

Aren't all these statements judgemental / highly generalized, when made without proper research and evidence? Okay - there ARE bad doctors. But that does not mean that all are bad!

And what is the consequence of all this? However well Aamir Khan may do his other episodes of SJ, he has lost the support of a lot of doctors - including good ones. Rural women who need healthcare will not go to doctors even if good ones are around. Worse still, they will now be so scared of sterilization procedures that they are going to either keep bearing more kids or spoil their health further, or maybe both. In my building, the watchman told the milkman "Don't go to a doctor if you have fever.. there is no need"! I shudder to think of what more can happen. 

I recently came across an expansion for THINK, which is worth thinking about. Think before you speak...

T- Is what you are saying True?

H - is it Helpful?

I - is it Inspiring?

N - is it Necessary (to say it out)?

K - is it Kind?

More about this here

I believe that if we even apply only the T, H and N, we'd be doing a lot.

And let us focus on talking about the good doctors we know. There are plenty of them, working silently and doing tons of good for their patients. If we really count there will always be more of the good ones - not just doctors, but people from any profession. Stop and think - for every bad professional or person you know - how many good ones you do. In majority of cases, I am sure you will know more of good souls.

Now, am I generalizing? :) Yes, I am. But that's fine, when it is about good stuff!


being A S I A said...

Brilliant ! you are a Rockkstarr !

Vasumathi said...

Thank you Asia!

Anonymous said...

I share your disappointment with the negativity in newspapers.So much of what is published is judgemental or drawing people to make uninformed judgements. Even sports pages are now highly judgemental and uncharitable towards players. My favourite newspage is the one that has comics and crosswords.:)