When I was doing house job, once I had to do continuous 72 hours duty because there was no other house surgeon. I had to leave the ward without rounds which hadn’t started on time that day. And I was marked absent and had to apologise for leaving without rounds!!! Amongst many queries in my mind came the question “ Am I an animal?” but I guess even animals have better rights. Courts and animal right lovers show their concern for them all the time. Then “Who am I?” I was forced to think………some species who is being treated worse than animals. My seniors told me “You are a “doctor” and have to work like this only”.
Can this happen the same way with someone in any other profession? That too a profession wherein a young brilliant child, after 10-15 years of most tough studies ,exams, difficult training throughout the golden years of his youth, starts earning pittance. And in a job that also requires doing duties day and night, sometimes for 24 to 48 hours at a stretch without proper meals and sleep. Most of the hospitals don’t even ensure tea and food on these duties for doctors .But these young hardworking people do it gladly and enthusiastically, doing a most noble work saving innumerable lives or relieving countless people of their pain. No rights have ever been defined for these young brilliant children.
This great work is not even acknowledged in any way. These duties are merely systematic exploitation of doctors because of:
– sometimes in the name of Hippocratic oath,
– sometimes in the name of morality
– because of the kindness in their hearts
– in the name of suffering and dying patients
– in name of shortage of doctors and staff.
– for fear of courts and medico-legal cases
– for fear of assaults since the number of doctors is less per patient.
– by some administrative systems who use pressure tactics and sometimes
bullying to get work done
– by similar widely prevalent culture in most hospitals
– for sake of their career and higher degrees
for sake of employment
– in the name of training , and in many more ways.
And these innocent, brilliant and enthusiastic young doctor with stars in their eyes, go on doing it for years along with never ending studies. There is no count of hours, no money or compensation in most of healthcare systems of world for these inhuman duties, exploited young energy and lives. And then comes the most painful part when they do not get the due respect in the society. Their selfless hard work goes unnoticed and unappreciated most of the time. Most people take this slave like working as guaranteed and do not feel it as any injustice to these young doctors. These brilliant children while on duty, may be verbally abused, routinely threatened, assaulted or dragged to courts for trivial issues and that too for no faults of theirs. They just become punching bags for the inept healthcare system and invisible medical industry though lives saved by these young men are uncountable and people relieved of pain and agony innumerable.
Though some western countries of European union and NHS medical systems have realized the inhuman duties and are now following a fixed hours duty schedule, but still most of countries and health systems have kept their eyes closed regarding these slave like duty hours and poor work conditions.
I have enumerated just a few of the problems and the actual burden on the doctor is substantially more and that is further compounded by the behaviour of the society. All these factors put together threaten the very core of the healthcare system, the doctors, who are then not able to work to their full efficiency.
I wonder if this is perceived as normal and routine then what else does slavery constitute ?