There are many reasons which have led to the burden on the doctor-patient relationship. The commercialisation of medical education, rapid increase in business minded corporate hospitals, an ever- increasing population of patients with a limited number of doctors to serve them and unrealistic expectations from patients.
On this Doctors Day, let’s just step back and have a look at the immense efforts that goes into becoming and serving as a doctor. Perhaps this will help the layman get a better grasp of what the doctor goes through and despite best efforts, sometimes things go wrong.
Firstly, it takes around 10 years after SSC and 15 years after HSC, to become a specialist and a super-specialist. This long period is not an easy ride. The days are long and spent studying voluminous books, serving patients, compromising on sleep and food.
Secondly, when working in a government set-up, the amount of patient load is just so much that it is literally impossible for the doctors to properly pay attention to them.
Despite this, doctors do continuous shifts of even up to 36 hours without a break. The environment in a government hospital is far from ideal. Many times the medical infrastructure and medicine availability is so poor that the doctor finds it impossible to run the show on such scarce resources.
On top of that, with the constant risk of being beaten up the relatives if something goes wrong adds fuel to fire. In spite of all this, the doctor works his heart out and in majority of the cases, does wonders for the patient.
Thirdly, people these days have tendency to cry foul and allege medical negligence if anything goes wrong. The layman must understand that no doctor wants his patient to suffer and does his level best as per his ability.
Also, even if the patient recovers but the relatives feel that the bill is on higher side, they make a fuss of it. People must understand that the doctor also needs to earn a living.
He has invested 14 years if his life in acquiring his skill set, more than any other professional in any other field. If he hopes to have a good standard of living, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Also, most of the doctors charge reasonably, the excess charges are generally in corporate hospitals where businessmen control the doctors. If people want affordable care, they must place their trust in smaller hospitals and nursing homes.
Fourthly, a recent study shows that Indian doctors have an average age of 59, far lesser than average Indian which is around 66. The immense stress of working round the clock in high pressure life death situations finally has a cost.
In conclusion, there needs to be a movement amongst people where in the government is held accountable for health of every individual in this country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says there should be one doctor per thousand people. In India, it us 1:1,700 and in government hospital, it is 1:11,000. The GDP spent on healthcare is 1.5% in our country. Most of the developed nations spend around 4%.
The layman must hold the authorities accountable for his health needs on a long-term basis rather than just waking up when they find themselves in a crisis situation.
And all said and done, the basic thing that every doctor hopes for is the respect from the patient and their family. Just give him that genuinely and see the mountains he is ready to move for you.
The author is a consultant Psychiatrist at Healthspring, Mumbai