Of poor patients and callous doctors
Our country is moving fast towards becoming a developed nation; but are we able to follow the standards of conduct of a developed nation in our government hospitals? I am concerned with the behaviour of medical personnel in government hospitals.
The “hospitality”, which the medical personnel of government hospitals provide to their patients is unworthy of mention, to put it politely. A typical scene in a government hospital, amidst the usual chaos: the attending relatives running around frantically, asking for directions, submitting blood samples, and sometimes even hunting for stretchers to transport their patient. After all these efforts, if the patient is lucky enough to get admitted, his real ordeal begins in the wards. There he has to face indifferent and arrogant doctors, nurses and ward boys. Often, if relatives go to the nursing staff regarding medication for the patient, they are packed off after being told to wait for other nursing staff to come to the bedside, but these staff never turn up. Eventually the attendants become frustrated and start creating a scene. Besides this, doctors at government hospitals take their patients for granted, often scolding them instead of explaining. Other common reasons for conflict between the doctor and patient or his relatives are miscommunication to the relatives about the patient’s condition, and covering up of any negligence by medical personnel. Since patients going to government hospitals are generally poor, they are unable to raise their voices against practices, unlike in western countries, where the volume of litigation is high and 70% of it is related to poor communication and attitudes of staff (1).
In private hospitals in India the scenario is totally different. Patients are offered the best of care and facilities, and are attended to more promptly. The staff are ready to attend to patients. Medical personnel talk to the patients and their families with due respect. Why do these differences prevail? Are patients coming to government hospitals not human? Don’t they need the same tender care and hospitality which patients in private hospitals are getting?
India is still a developing country and 60% of the population is below the poverty line. They are bound to go to the government hospitals. Why can’t the medical personnel of government hospitals consider the point of view of the poor patient? Is the pay scale in the private hospitals the incentive or the fear of losing their jobs? The Medical Council of India (MCI) must set up patients’ advisory committees which deal with the problems that patients face with the health service. There should be a system by which patients can give feedback on the behaviour of medical personnel. During the recruitment of medical personnel a part of the interview should test their behaviour. Those already working should undergo compulsory training regarding their conduct towards patients and their relatives. If these steps are implemented then surely the situation will improve and government hospitals will become places worthy of treating poor and needy people.
Swati Tandon, Resident doctor, Pushpanjali Corsslay Hospital, Sector 1, Vaishali, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh 201012 INDIA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Towell E. To err is human, to cover up is unforgivable. Ann R Coll Surg Engl (Suppl). 2010; 92:232-3.