Apollo Hospital fined 5 lakh: “Doc, Talk less, write more”.Doctor save yourself by “documenting the communication”


Doctors are trained to treat patients and  that is they keep on  doing. But in today’s era that is not enough. They are expected to examine, investigate, diagnosis , treat correctly   and communicate to the family or patient. Everything should be speedy and  financially suitable to the patient’s expectations. Even if that is done, the things do not end here. Doctor need to document, what has been  communicated to the family.  It is hard to believe that  doctor at a hospital like Apollo,  who really did well to diagnose a disease like SLE and still did not communicate. Yes, news item mentions that in file that  there was no evidence of communication. Doctors still behave like doctors and do not treat patient as consumer. Usually , doctor trust their patients  and there is lot of verbal communication takes place. Verbally they sympathize, communicate  and  tell many things which are not documented as a routine.

The Delhi State Consumer Commission, in its judgment, made it essential for a hospital to disclose to the patients or their attendants, the line of treatment and the potential risks involved in it.
The judgment came in connection with the death of a 23-year-old student, who died during a treatment at  Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in 2004.

Many times patients are sincere enough to admit to  verbal  communication. But sometimes when  during ongoing  medico legal lawsuits, a feeling  of revenge prevails  or as guided by lawyers, patient  may not admit  to the verbal communication.  Specially if verbal communication is not documented in file.

How to  save yourself  by  “documenting  the communication”

  • examine, investigate, diagnosis , treat correctly and communicate
  • Make a note of plan of treatment and prognosis, and communicate to patient or attendants.
  • Sign yourself and ask the patient or nearest relative to sign.
  • It is not uncommon that relative will refuse to sign. In that case just write a note and mention that attendant refuses to sign.
  • It is also a common issue that after listening to everything, relative will say that he does not understand or will ask his uncle or aunt. These are difficult moments and commonly happen. Just make a note of everything. Besides it wastes crucial time.
  • Can use camera for communication in difficult cases.
  • Never rely on verbal communication. It has little value.  Commonly people refuse to admit verbal communication, and will say that they were not told anything.

As time for everything is limited in life, be it treatment, communication, consent or documentation. So message is clear for doctors. “Talk less and write more”. You will be judged by documents after many years. Therefore,  do save the patient, but save yourself also.

 

 

Two doctors from Fortis Hospital arrested – How doctors may save themselves by learning from such cases.


Doctor,  do save the patient but save yourself also.

Doctors continue to treat and save  many patients in the years they work. But present law and regulatory system does not take into account those years of  good and hard work. It does  treat doctor as a petty criminal for some single mistake or unfortunate incident. Law just deals with it in a harshest possible manner.  Patient may have died because of disease, but when in side the hospital, it is very easy to relate death with actions or inaction of doctors.  Specially because inquiries are always done  with  retrospective analysis, with wisdom of hindsight. Although there is a feeling among doctors that what is really happening these days, something may not be very appropriate, but there is no room  for leniency here.

News of this kind brings tsunami of fear in minds of doctors all over. It can be anyone in such situation, where  it is just   that a particular doctor did not have that eye for danger in that moment. The  doctor did  not realize or anticipate the gravity of  the consequence and outcome of the patient in real time. It may be difficult to pick up or just not take the situation very seriously. That can simply be poor training or working without good application of mind. But  looking retrospectively, situation becomes clear.

Two senior doctors of Fortis Hospital in Haryana’s Gurgaon were arrested on Friday for a “delay in administration of emergency medicines” to a 51-year-old woman, who died of cardiac arrest last year, police said.

 

      Lessons to be learnt:  What options doctors have at present? Because they are at receiving end always. They have to learn from such cases and do something in their routine to prevent disasters. How can they save themselves?

  1. All patients to be seen by primary consultants or someone from concerned unit at the earliest. It is important as emergency doctor may  not be equipped to deal with specialty  problem.  Prompt diagnosis by specialty doctor and written findings are important.
  2. Initial assessment should be quick and with in minimum time.
  3. Good communication and documentation of the problem.
  4. Assess the patient and make a note of treatment to be given.
  5. Document the plan of action, that is investigation and management.
  6. Avoid phone call consultations and leaving treatment loosely. Well thought documented plan should be in place.
  7. Situation may be different for smaller nursing homes. Treatment of an emergency will remain same, whether patient goes to bigger or smaller hospital.   Nursing homes may not be equipped for all the emergencies. So challenge before the smaller hospitals will be to identify the problem and diagnose them quickly  and  if required send them to proper  hospital, rather risking themselves in today’s times.
  8. Aspiring doctors can have a cue about what they are getting into. So as to adapt to prevalent adverse circumstances for doctors, if they aspire to be one.

 

Doctor, do save the patient but save yourself also.

 

Dr Hazida Bawa-Garba case: sacrificial lambs “The doctors” and not health administrators? Dangerous precedence for doctors worldwide


Dr Hazida Bawa case is of importance worldwide in many ways, an (lost)opportunity  for learning some hard and truthful lessons, as it touched upon various crucial aspects involved in treatment, especially in difficult situations , for doctors.  At the time of death of patient, a constant and  universal last link is only the doctor, that is visible. This visibility of doctor at the time of  declaration of death  or while treating the patient on his bedside, makes him vulnerable to all kinds of accusations. By application of an average wisdom,  all deaths can be easily attributed or linked to fault of the doctor. Subtle presentations of severe disease, rapid deterioration, multi organ complexities, under staffing and sub optimal systems, equipment and  other innumerable shortcomings of the whole system may not be visible or not given consideration in the  haze, as compared to  publicity and attention  given to only doctor’s faults. This is specially so when the wisdom is applied retrospectively, with knowledge  of hindsight,  and by the people who have never treated emergencies or have never been in such difficult situations  themselves.

Analogy to  Dr Hazida Bawa case

        Imagine a situation where during a bad sea storm, large number of people are trapped and are in mortal danger. The coast guard on the duty tries his best in the emergency situation with his limited resources and saves a large number of people. There were only a few coast guards present, equipment were inadequate and sub optimal.  However the guards manage to salvage the situation by doing the best possible in the circumstances. There were instances, where they decide, act, communicate and document events simultaneously, in an instant.  Those who could not be saved were exposed to risk of death as resources allocated by authorities were limited.  The near and dear ones of those who died were unhappy and revengeful with the services. Inquiry is done to find out the cause of failure in preventing those deaths. Rather than appreciating the facts that greater proportion of victims were saved in those difficult circumstances, the guards are blamed for those who could not be saved. Guards who are already apologetic for not been able to save the few, are blamed for doing their duty shabbily after careful fault finding analysis of the event. The administrators  who are responsible for allocating the inadequate number of guards and equipment, who actually failed in their duty, also participate in pointing fingers at the guards.

  The saddest part was that courts also were  unwilling to apply wisdom to look beyond the guard faults and  reach beyond the fog in present hazy circumstances. Systems and administrative lapses and inadequacy of number of coast guards was not raised as a concern. The responsibility of the deaths is thus fixed on the persons who struggled to save the lives of many. Every one has great sympathies for the deceased, but there is another angle for doctors in such  difficult situations.

This is an analogy to Dr Hazida Bawa case, but similar unfortunate incidents are happening to medical professionals worldwide, more so in developing countries. The new regulated system of medicine has an aberrant evolution and   chooses to hang their own wounded soldier for not putting up the best fight, rather than accepting the limitations of medical science or errors in the supporting systems.  Was  she an easy scapegoat for some obviously non- admissible reasons prevalent?

Why is it always necessary to punish a doctor, and  conveniently overlook errors of the sub optimal  system in cases of unfavorable prognosis, especially in sick patients. Why a sub optimal system or unsafe working conditions  like  all other registrars were on leave simultaneously, or only one registrar in place of three and that too a trainee. There was no consultant or registrar covering her?   Why is a single doctor stuck in a difficult situation  not  treated as  just another human being in an emergency situation, especially in cases of very sick patients? Why administrators or managers are not punishable for putting doctor and patients at risk and unsafe condition ?

If a doctor is supposed to raise concern (may be at cost of his career), then what is the role of managers, management and administration?  Are they inefficient or incompetent  to anticipate the situation? A new doctor coming on duty can not anticipate the deficiency of system. He will not have time to assess the managerial deficiencies. Therefore raising a concern by doctor on duty is something, which is expected but at the same time not feasible always, in true sense.  This expectation to raise  a concern  may be  used to later implicate the doctor as to why he or she did not raise a concern.  At the same time it takes responsibility off, from the  administrators whose  duty was to raise concerns.

NHS is looked upon in the world as one of the better organized health care organization in terms of uniformity. If such an organization has to sacrifice its working hands in the form of scapegoats to prove its quality, deliberately overlooking its system errors, then it is a sad state for doctors all over the world. This would set a precedence for governments and health administrators, world over to be  fearless in  putting errors of sub optimal system under the carpet by punishing the doctors instead. Since there will always be a doctor in the end who will declare the death, is the last and common link in all deaths. Other circumstantial issues would be overlooked  because of sheer unwillingness to do so.

Irony of the situation is that generally people who have been invested with the power to decide on these issues of medical negligence  may  have  never faced  such situations themselves.  They may be the people in administrative positions who have never treated a single patient, leave aside emergencies.  They do not even  know, what it takes to deal with emergencies of life and death, that too multiple ones, with limited resources. The court takes years to decide on these issues discussed retrospectively with wisdom of hindsight, on issues which the doctor had to decide in a jiffy.  A person who perhaps can only imagine such a situation, or  never handle it himself, even in his wildest dreams is the one who decides what went wrong merely based on how the situation is placed and presented before him.

         If there is unsaid immunity to governments and administrators for providing a suboptimal systems, then the doctor should be the first person to get this immunity. But unfortunately nobody seems  to be willing to find out who is responsible for putting  the doctor  in such  a difficult situation, making everything error prone.

       If in such system a doctor is punished, then the administrator, manager or trust should be an automatic accomplice to the doctor’s punishment. Firstly   for providing an unsafe and  suboptimal system, and secondly for not raising a concern as management . Thirdly for putting it’s doctor in difficult circumstances. If it was an understaffed system, then disaster was bound to  happen sooner or later. This is a perfect example how management lapses contribute to death but doctors are the only ones who are entirely blamed and punished in isolation.

  Another sad part is the unwillingness of judiciary system to look at the larger picture and the fault in the system, which has led to mass demoralization of the doctors. The doctors are denied the true justice in many such cases.  They are being used as sacrificial lambs. Health administrators are obviously at an advantage enjoying the invisible immunity and perks, at the cost of medical professionals.  By crucification of the doctors, vengeance of the society is fulfilled and everyone feels  satisfied  with false sense of justice.  But does this give any advantage to the society? Definitely not. In fact  the society is thus raising a  demoralized force to be their care providers, who under duress, will definitely not perform to their very best.  If this is quality of justice for saviours, this demoralized force may also not be available in future.

Doctor’s assault at D Y Patil Medical College: incident hits doctor’s compassion and trust towards patients


unwillingness or failure of government  to prevent such attacks on doctors will have deep ramifications on future of medical profession. Silence of authorities, human right commission is really appalling.  Role of doctor associations, parent institutes have been spineless and not encouraging.  Role of media, celebrities, film stars in spreading the hatred against the medical profession and creating an environment of mistrust is unpardonable, where stray incidents were portrayed as normal routine just to earn money and fame. Ultimately doctors have been left to fend for themselves individually or with friend groups.

 Discussion always revolves around the trust of the patients on the doctor. But in reality, situation is getting opposite gradually. Empathy, sympathy, compassion and trust  of the doctor towards the patient, will definitely get a hit after these incidents. Everyday  the news of assaults on doctors, court cases against doctors, negative projection of the medical profession   in the media are viewed  by doctor’s community anxiously. Recent senseless attack  on doctor  at

D Y Patil Medical College Pune  is another example. 

A resident doctor was assaulted with a scalpel and a few paramedics were roughed up by relatives of 26 -year-old man after he suddenly died following a cardiac arrest at D Y Patil Medical College and Hospital in Pimpri late on Friday evening.
The resident doctor suffered a deep cut on his face and some blunt injuries in the assault.

 

        Merely taking some token  action and showing  protest will not solve the problem. It does not compensate for the  damage done to medical profession. Sympathy, compassion and trust of the doctors towards patients will definitely reduce. Who will be  the ultimate sufferer, does not need a Einstein brain to predict.

          Formal and informal discussions among medical professional at various forums  have taken a center stage about the changing scenario. It  gives a perception that patients are loosing faith in doctors. That perception is not incorrect. But what remains hidden is that every incidence of verbal, legal, and physical assault  brings some kind of feeling of insecurity in minds of all doctors, who deal with patients.

                    This insecurity or fear of the uncertainty tends to affect the thinking process of doctors and the way they practice medicine or deal with the patients. Many will like to be defensive in practice, or try not to treat very sick patients.  Why would someone try complex surgeries with risk involved? Few will limit themselves to follow protocols. Going extra mile with risk, which not everyone will like to take. Many will become health managers or  do something else than do active clinical work. Who should risk his life while doing routine work?

  Every incidence of verbal, legal, and physical assault is a trust breaker. It is not only erosion of patient’s trust on doctors but the vice versa is also true.  As  a rule of nature, as violence increases, compassion decreases.

    Patients might get their revenge for the  naturally occurring disease, but they will lose compassion and trust of doctors in the long run. If that is the way to impart justice in this era, doctors will have to find some way to save themselves.

 

LNJP hospital doctor’s assault: Role of Doctor’s Associations and Parent Institutes, human right commissions?


The  impunity with which attendant easily and brutally assault doctors is really appalling, that too in bigger institutes like LNJP Delhi , should be shameful to law enforcing agencies. Are we a lawless society? More problematic is the government apathy and silence of human right commission. Here comes the point that what is the role of our doctor’s organizations and parent hospital and institute, where the incident happens.

         Why  in each and every case of doctor’ s assault, doctor’s bodies and organization do not file a case in the court against the  responsible  authority for security. Non action by Doctor’s Associations, bodies and organizations, not able to take a stand for their children is  most disappointing.

     Another issue is with the parent institute, where such incident happens. Institutes as a unit or a parent  should file cases, rather than few suffering doctors running here and there for help.

 Role of Government, Doctor’s Associations and Parent Institutes is akin to a “father”, who is wining and dining, whereas  his  working and brilliant children are being beaten black and blue.  This is certainly  a poor advertisement, if society wants good doctors.  At least  it should not rue about extinction of good doctors. 

doctor assault CMC Ludhiana

Beti padhao beti bacchao

assault of female doctors

Doctor’s assault (CMC Ludhiana): Every incident hits doctor’s compassion towards patients


Discussion always revolves around the trust of the patients on the doctor. But in reality, situation is getting different gradually. Empathy, sympathy, compassion and trust  of the doctor towards the patient  are important factors during the treatment.  Everyday  the news of assaults on doctors, court cases against doctors, negative projection of the medical profession   in the media are viewed  by doctor’s community anxiously. Recent senseless attack  on doctor in Christian medical college Ludhiana is another example. Merely taking some action after protest will not solve the problem. It does not compensate for the  damage done to medical profession. Also it erodes the trust and compassion of doctors towards patients.

          Formal and informal discussions among medical professional at various forums  have taken a center stage about the changing scenario. It  gives a perception that patients are loosing faith in doctors. That perception is not incorrect. But what remains hidden is that every incidence of verbal, legal, and physical assault  brings some kind of feeling of insecurity in minds of all doctors, who deal with patients.

                    This insecurity or fear of the uncertainty tends to affect the thinking process of doctors and the way they practice medicine or deal with the patients. Many will like to be defensive in practice, or try not to treat very sick patients.  Why would someone try complex surgeries with risk involved? Few will limit themselves to follow protocols. Going extra mile with risk, which not everyone will like to take. Many will become health managers or  do something else than do active clinical work. Who should risk his life while doing routine work? Brilliant students  will not be inspired to be doctors.

  Every incidence of verbal, legal, and physical assault is a trust breaker. It is not only erosion of patient’s trust on doctors but the vice versa is also true.  As  a rule of nature, as violence increases, compassion decreases. Patients might get their revenge for the disease, but they will lose compassion and trust of doctors in the long run.

 

MEDICAL LAWSUITS FOR COMPENSATION: ARE DOCTORS SOFT TARGETS ?


Doctors save the patient, but save yourself also.

In an era, when family members, brothers and sisters fight for money among themselves, it will be naive to think that idea of extracting money from the doctor does not exist. With courts giving millions in compensation, lawyers are ready to fight cases on zero fee and divide the booty later. There may be many relatives, lawyers who are ready to try their luck, sometimes in vengeance and sometimes for the  money received in compensations. This encouragement and instigation of lawsuit against doctors is becoming a major disadvantage to doctors. Here is a news from a paper showing the problem.

Dentist accused of botching up an implant, produces video of complainant feasting at gurudwara langar: Senior citizen claims Rs 35 lakh from her dentist saying her implant was botched up and she was unable to eat; the doctor produces a video of her feasting at a gurudwara langar; cops close case.

In this case the doctors was really smart and lucky. The doctor was able to generate some evidence .  but  most of the time, things lie in grey zone and it becomes very difficult for the doctor to defend. Unfortunately  sympathy of the court and public sentiments runs against doctors . Thanks to media and celebrities for the  negative and  campaign against medical profession.

Many a times problems are just part of genuine poor prognosis or just bad course of disease or simply complications of the treatment.  Public has failed to realize that during treatment of  human body, complications  are inevitable and will always happen.  Retrospective analysis and wisdom of hindsight, always throws better light. But during treatment all this luxury is not available to doctor. Genuine complications can be easily labeled as mistakes of the  treating doctor. Unfortunately, if there is a lawsuit against a doctor, he will be wasting all his time with lawyers and courts, which will takes years to sort out.

Problem is that, there is no deterrent for patients to put cases on a doctor. Even when  case is  just with a intention to harm, revenge or extortion. Harassment of the doctor is full and permanent, even if he is not at fault. Lawyers and patient’s  relatives can always have a field day, at the cost of doctors. Society may be slow to anticipate their long term loss at present.  Till that time, doctors will have to  find ways to save themselves, as this doctor did!

 

 

Medical lawsuit:bad lottery for doctor, Will ever there be justice for doctors?


Court’ s decisions, delivered with retrospective analysis and wisdom of hindsight puts the doctors  in  disadvantageous position, who have to decide  in the circumstances of  future uncertainties of diseases. Patients  will   always be unhappy due to disease and tend to blame the doctor. Doctors can bear  with the level of understanding of patients, ignorance of patients towards medical science, but it is  hard to digest the court’s  judgments of these types. Every drug, howsoever innocuous it may be, has different reaction in different humans. It is impossible to predict which patient will  have allergic or idiosyncratic reactions.

Here a neurologist has been punished because of rare side effect of the drug, which can happen to any one and with any drug.  If content of the newspaper are correct and this is the judgement, it is really unfortunate for the doctor and medical community as a whole.

So if doctors are being punished for uncertainity of medical science and there is  ignorance of courts towards the same, it will become impossible  for doctors to work.  It seems that in future it will be difficult to treat even a single patient because patients, courts and everyone either  do not accept genuine and routine complications of the disease or the outcome and  blame  the doctors  knowingly.

These kind of  judgments  are setting up   precedent for cases of negligence against medical professionals, for no fault of theirs. Thereby instilling a sense of fear in the minds of doctors, besides decreasing the faith in judiciary as well. Doctors are helping everyone, but getting zero justice themselves from all quarters including courts, have made medical professionals  sitting ducks  for harassment  by all possible means.

Now the neurologist will spend more money on lawyers in defending himself. He will waste his time in courts rather than treating patients. Above all, damage to his professional soul and morale of medical professionals as a community will get a jolt. Even if wisdom prevails and higher court does the justice later, the irreparable damage is already  done to medical profession.

The atmosphere of falsely created vigilantism is pervading everywhere against doctors, with the result that wisdom, judgment, intellectual debate, and basic common sense is being abandoned for the sake of populist judgments. The perception thus created against doctors by media and celebrities has done immense damage to profession, resulting in bringing the doctors  to their knees. Whether there is any substance to the allegations, unfortunately, does not seem to matter.

If doctors are going to be penalized despite  doing their job correctly, then God save the people and medics. If this is the  justice imparted to doctors, good doctors will choose for safer options. As society is unable or unwilling to do justice to doctors, should it expect good doctors to treat their patients? Or actually does the society deserves to have good doctors?

 

‘A doctor who always operated on ear, irrespective of problem’: Role of media in Fortis and Max hospital Delhi incidents


        During my  days as medical student, we laughed at a story wherein a doctor always operated on patient’s  ear for all their ailments. Whatever may be the problem in the body, it was only the ear which received the cut always.  Similar treatment is being given to doctors by media.  Now-a days, for every progression of the disease and for genuine poor prognosis or death of the patient, media  is prompt to start the  blame game of doctor- doctor. Media even does not try to verify the facts. The real medical issues in treatment of these cases are still not emphasized by media, like whether these cases were salvageable or not.  For example why so many preventable disease like dengue, malaria happen every year   to thousands of people every year and are still progressing?  Take the case of foetus at 22 weeks…… how many have survived in India or in  the  world? In this case and that of  the complicated dengue case, the survival chances were quite dismal, even in developed world medicine.  Inability of media people to analyze the difficulty on scientific parameters, unwillingness of people to accept the real poor prognosis and political class to flow with populist opinion has done irreparable damage to medical profession. Just a blame game and the word ‘negligence’ are in the air.

    Outcome in these cases is not uncommon or unanticipated by any yardstick in the world. But no one is concerned about that. And in the end, what are the losses?

    Discouraged medical fraternity, low morale of doctors, and talk of leaving this profession have become smaller issues and do not affect anybody in media or Government. 

   But larger issues remain: how to prevent thousands of death due to poor control of communicable and preventable diseases. Proper delivery of health care will not improve by playing the blame game on doctor.  Media bashing of doctors may divert attention from the real issues and  media people   will earn money and fame. Doctors will be punished  as a result of  populist revenge.  But this approach of media is not going to save patients or provide better health care to masses in future.

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