Save the doctor to save yourself: An era when genesis of diseases is not punished, but treatment is.


            “Young girl killed by doctors at Fortis Gurugram” and “alive baby declared dead by doctors at Max Hospital Delhi”. These two news items  have recently jolted everyone in medical fraternity. Doctors have  yet  to come to terms with harsh reality  in order to   realize about the  harm   that can happen to themselves, when they just  say yes to treat the complex cases. A worst form of dengue already complicated, or a premature delivery at 22 weeks. I am sure doctors will know, how many patients and pregnancies have survived at this stage in the world, in both of these conditions.

     We have all kind of preventable diseases happening around us. Thousands of people suffering and many loose life, just because of worthless causes. Even healthy people are killed because of preventable calamities like open pot holes, floods, heat or preventable fires, accidents and so on. But strangely when disease happens and gets complicated in one patient, death due to these complications in the hospital is taken very severely. Although it may  have been  just untreatable at some point, but whole burden of death and punishments are  passed  over to doctors very conveniently.

   In both these complex cases, there are no clear cut guidelines by government. In whatever way doctor will act, he can be blamed easily on some pretext or another. By such yardsticks,  all complicated cases and subsequent  deaths happening in hospital settings can be termed as ‘ negligence’ by a fault finding retrospective approach. Now doctors have become scared  to treat complex cases.  

   It is sad to see that our leaders, media and all stakeholders have no knowledge of complex medical issues. I do not see any solution to these kind of exploitation and extortion of medics in near future.  But   are all complicated cases and deaths in hospital are Negligence?  This is going to be tough time for doctors but subsequently for patients.  These are worst days for doctors, where genesis of disease is overlooked and unnatural death of hundreds is not taken care of. But doctor who is working with intentions to treat the complex situation is being punished.  But society should be able to count its losses after few years, if such trend continues.  Good doctors will easily quit or shift to safe positions. Society has to save doctors, if it wants to save it’s people.

     

Max Hospital Delhi handed over dead baby : Is “ Lazarus syndrome” a possibility?


 

        There are lot of discussion going on about live  baby handed over to parents by Max Hospital  Delhi, as dead.  Every one including  media has as usual  jumped on to the favorite  topic of  doctor bashing.  Facts are still under investigation. But as a doctor, I can not reach conclusions without scientific discussion, least possible by media  talking superfluously. There can be number of possibilities, which we will  know with time after proper investigation. But whatever the result, doctors bashing had already been done by media , with or without knowing facts.

Life and death are still far beyond the reach of science and obviously  of doctors as well. There are still a lot more unknown than known story about human life. I just wish to draw the attention of my readers about an entity, which is quite mysterious.  Condition is  called     “ Lazarus syndrome”. Also known as auto resuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation.

A little bit about  this rare phenomenon.      

 

Lazarus syndrome, also known as auto resuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation. Its occurrence has been noted in medical literature at least 38 times since 1982. It takes its name from Lazarus who, as described in the New Testament of The Bible, was raised from the dead by Jesus.

Occurrences of the syndrome are extremely rare and the causes are not well understood. One hypothesis for the phenomenon is that a chief factor (though not the only one) is the buildup of pressure in the chest as a result of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The relaxation of pressure after resuscitation efforts have ended is thought to allow the heart to expand, triggering the heart’s electrical impulses and restarting the heartbeat. Other possible factors are hyperkalemia or high doses of epinephrine.

Cases

-A 27-year-old man in the UK collapsed after overdosing on heroin and cocaine. Paramedics gave him an injection, and he recovered enough to walk to the ambulance. He went into cardiac arrest in transit. After 25 minutes of resuscitation efforts, the patient was verbally declared dead. About a minute after resuscitation ended, a nurse noticed a rhythm on the heart monitor and resuscitation was resumed. The patient recovered fully.

-A 66-year-old man suffering from a suspected abdominal aneurysm who, during treatment for this condition, suffered cardiac arrest and received chest compressions and defibrillation shocks for 17 minutes. Vital signs did not return; the patient was declared dead and resuscitation efforts ended. Ten minutes later, the surgeon felt a pulse. The aneurysm was successfully treated and the patient fully recovered with no lasting physical or neurological problems.

-According to a 2002 article in the journal Forensic Science International, a 65-year-old  deaf Japanese male was found unconscious in the foster home he lived in. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was attempted on the scene by home staff, emergency medical personnel and also in the emergency department of the hospital and included appropriate medications and defibrillation. He was declared dead after attempted resuscitation. However, a policeman found the person moving in the mortuary after 20 minutes. The patient survived for 4 more days.

-Judith Johnson, 61, went into cardiac arrest at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Delaware, United States, in May 2007. She was given “multiple medicines and synchronized shocks”, but never regained a pulse. She was declared dead at 8:34 p.m. but was discovered in the morgue to be alive and breathing. She sued the medical center where it happened for damages due to physical and neurological problems stemming from the event.

-A 45-year-old woman in Colombia was pronounced dead, as there were no vital signs showing she was alive. Later, a funeral worker noticed the woman moving and alerted his co-worker that the woman should go back to the hospital. A 65-year-old man in Malaysia came back to life two-and-a-half hours after doctors at Seberang Jaya Hospital, Penang, pronounced him dead. He died three weeks later.

-Anthony Yahle, 37, in Bellbrook, Ohio, USA, was breathing abnormally at 4 a.m. on 5 August 2013, and could not be woken. He was given CPR, and first responders shocked him several times and found a heartbeat. That afternoon, he coded for 45 minutes at Kettering Medical Center and was pronounced dead. When his son arrived at the hospital, he noticed a heartbeat on the monitor that was still attached. Resuscitation efforts resumed, and the patient was revived.

-Walter Williams, 78, from Lexington, Mississippi, United States, was at home when his hospice nurse called a coroner who arrived and declared him dead at 9 p.m. on 26 February 2014. Once at a funeral home, he was found to be moving, possibly resuscitated by a defibrillator implanted in his chest. The next day he was well enough to be talking with family, but died fifteen days later.

Implications  The Lazarus phenomenon raises ethical issues for physicians, who must determine when medical death has occurred, resuscitation efforts should end, and postmortem procedures such as autopsies and organ harvesting may take place.

Medical literature has recommended observation of a patient’s vital signs for five to ten minutes after cessation of resuscitation before certifying death.

In Popular Culture

In the TV show Grey’s Anatomy, a patient had a heart attack and after 42 minutes of resuscitation efforts they declared her dead. And 20 minutes after death has been declared, the patient vital signs returned and regained consciousness.

Source

Lazarus syndrome. (2017, September 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:51, December 4, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lazarus_syndrome&oldid=798456668

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lazarus_syndrome&oldid=798456668

Silence of lords is a death sentence to the medical profession:#Doctor’s assaults


 

      Every one when sick, always seeks help of a doctor and invariably help is provided. But strangely, when a doctor needs help, there is no one. Even those people, whose life had been saved, have not returned the favor.  A   strange phenomenon has happened in few years of accusing the doctors for all the ills in society and holding them responsible, without even looking at the root cause.  Everyone has found an easy scapegoat to blame.   Human rights of medical community has been grossly violated by physical assaults. More painful is to see the authorities  who are  supposed to take action have maintained a silence in all these years about this issue.  There has been countless incidences, recent being in Kalyan and Jaipur.

 

If this trend is not checked in an effective manner, it will be difficult to even treat a single patient in coming times. The way media and prominent people have put all doctors in bad light, it seems that a normal and good advice is also not taken in a correct perspective. Even patients do not understand, that this advice is for the  their betterment only.  It is because of prejudiced minds against doctors. Our films and film stars have shown in films that it is okay to assault and bully the doctor to get treatment  in an effort  to impress the gullible masses and make some money. They may be successful in making some money, but by creating mistrust they have put the lives of gullible people on risk. The media should have a more sensible approach and do some basic research before highlighting sensational news against doctors, hospitals and healthcare professionals.

Just imagine, what that gynecologist did to the patient to  earn a slap, for no reason. In this  manner, forget about serious patients and surgeries, doctors will be afraid to do even routine surgeries as well. Here the situation is that even before surgery, doctor was slapped. Imagine, if a complication happens during or after surgery, doctor would have been killed. But strangely our government, human right commissions, police and courts have behaved as if they do not exist to help the doctor, but they expect the doctor to help everyone. This kind of inaction and  silence of  authorities is appalling.

       Obviously good doctors will try to shun the system. Government, human right commissions, police and courts, media have done their contribution to kill a profession, which was of great help to them.  I am sure we are civilized and wisened up enough to recognize these flaws in the society and have some corrective measures before it is too late………….too late to change the perceptions which will settle in the young impressionable minds of the children who till now think of it as their dream career. Otherwise no brilliant child would ever like to enter this profession out of their fear. Nor the parents would like their children to be working for uncivilized society.  The government needs to enact reasonable laws to use  healthcare systems,  to the best interest of people  instead of  unfairly victimize the doctors, just to impress the gullible masses.

It is not a doctor, which was assaulted. Silence of lords is a death sentence to the medical  profession as a whole. One person may realize the folly, but if we wait for realization to come to  whole civilization, it may be too late.

Again I will request the people to introspect, who rue the scarcity of good doctors “ do they deserve to have good doctors?”

 

 

Aberrant Evolution of medical profession: will it help the patient?


With advances in medical science, simultaneously there has been aberrant evolution of medical profession, education, regulation and medical industry. By provoking controversy about doctors for varied reasons, medical industry and law has been positioned between the doctor and  patient and  taken a center stage in health care. Till now, doctor patient interaction was the central point of the health industry, a core around which medical industry revolved. But now   this interaction, treatment and  almost everything is controlled by industry and regulated in some manner. There have been technical advancements to promote better treatment and diagnosis but these, at the same time, increase the cost of treatment, involvement of industry and hence dependence on investors.

 There has been advancements, but are they in right direction?

Discouragement  of medical fraternity:  The adage “To err is human” probably does not apply to the doctors anymore. Doctors are definitely regarded different from rest of the humans and are not supposed to have privileges that other persons of humankind are guaranteed. Hence they are harassed often for any adverse clinical outcome even though it may be because of poor prognosis of patient. They work under continuous fear and stress and are punished for each small or big error.

Commercial evolution of medical education: medical student are now forced to pay exorbitant fee with lower standards of education.  

Evolution in medico legal  procedures:  extensive and complex communication, technical advancements and legal interactions has taken a toll on the doctors. But more importantly, how that has improved the patient care or  doctor patient relationship? I feel, it has created fear in mind of doctors and deterioration of doctor patient relationship.

 Evlution of Doctor patient relationship and Trust :In all the complexity, trust between doctor patient has taken a hit. A good paternistic relationship, now has been converted to more of a legal one. Trust has been replaced by  mutual fear.

Evolution of Complex medical regulation and documentation: There has been overzealous regulation of medical profession. Time and resouces which should have been utilized for treatment of patients,  has to be used for complex documentation.

Evolution of media and social media: Painful retrospective analysis of work of doctor by media, courts and public contuse. Decisions which doctors has to take in moments are analysed retrospectively by everyone with wisdom of hindsight over years, without understanding complexities involved.

Evolution of Insurance sector: increasing cost of treatment and  medicolegal component has made both patients and doctors paying to insurance companies.

            This kind of aberrant evolution of medical profession has increased the problems of doctors and patients and it is not helping anyone. Ultimately it will help everyone except doctor and patient. Ultimately discourage the excellence in medical care.

 

Medical Regulation and Medical Community of Ancient Rome


Medical community

Medical services of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire were mainly imports from the civilization of Ancient Greece, and then through Greeks enslaved during the Roman conquest of Greece. Greek knowledge imparted to Roman citizens visiting or being educated in Greece.  A perusal of the names of Roman physicians will show that the majority are wholly or partly Greek and that many of the physicians were of servile origin.

The servility stigma came from the accident of a more medically advanced society being conquered by a lesser. One of the cultural ironies of these circumstances is that free men sometimes found themselves in service to the enslaved professional or dignitary, or the power of the state was entrusted to foreigners who had been conquered in battle and were technically slaves. In Greek society, physicians tended to be regarded as noble.

Public medicine

The medical art in early Rome was the responsibility of the pater familias, or patriarch. The importation of the Aesculapium established medicine in the public domain. There is no record of fees being collected for a stay at one of them, at Rome or elsewhere.  individuals vowed to perform certain actions or contribute a certain amount if certain events happened, some of which were healings. Such a system amounts to gradated contributions by income, as the contributor could only vow what he could provide. The building of a temple and its facilities on the other hand was the responsibility of the magistrates. The funds came from the state treasury or from taxes.

Private medicine  A second signal act marked the start of sponsorship of private medicine by the state as well. In the year 219 BCE, a vulnerarius, or surgeon, Archagathus, visited Rome from the Peloponnesus and was asked to stay. The state conferred citizenship on him and purchased him a taberna, or shop, near the compitium Acilii (a crossroads), which became the first officina medica.

The doctor necessarily had many assistants. Some prepared and vended medicines and tended the herb garden. These numbers, of course, are at best proportional to the true populations, which were many times greater.

Roman doctors of any stature combed the population for persons in any social setting who had an interest in and ability for practicing medicine. On the one hand the doctor used their services unremittingly. On the other they were treated like members of the family; i.e., they came to stay with the doctor and when they left they were themselves doctors. The best doctors were the former apprentices of the Aesculapia, who, in effect, served residencies there.

 

The practice of medicine

The physician

The next step was to secure the cura of a medicus. If the patient was too sick to move one sent for a clinicus, who went to the clinum or couch of the patient.

That the poor paid a minimal fee for the visit of a medicus is indicated by a wisecrack in Plautus. It was less than a nummus. Many anecdotes exist of doctors negotiating fees with wealthy patients and refusing to prescribe a remedy if agreement was not reached. The fees charged were on a sliding scale according to assets. The physicians of the rich were themselves rich. For example, Antonius Musa treated Augustus’ nervous symptoms with cold baths and drugs. He was not only set free but he became Augustus’ physician. He received a salary of 300,000 sesterces. There is no evidence that he was other than a private physician; that is, he was not working for the Roman government.

Legal responsibility Doctors were generally exempt from prosecution for their mistakes. Some writers complain of legal murder. However, holding the powerful up to exorbitant fees ran the risk of retaliation. Pliny reports  that the emperor Claudius fined a physician, Alcon, 180 million sesterces and exiled him to Gaul. By chance a law existed at Rome, the Lex Aquilia  passed about 286 BCE, which allowed the owners of slaves and animals to seek remedies for damage to their property, either malicious or negligent. Litigants used this law to proceed against the negligence of medici, such as the performance of an operation on a slave by an untrained surgeon resulting in death or other damage.

Social position While encouraging and supporting the public and private practice of medicine, the Roman government tended to suppress organizations of medici in society. The constitution provided for the formation of occupational collegia, or guilds. The consuls and the emperors treated these ambivalently. Sometimes they were permitted; more often they were made illegal and were suppressed. The medici formed collegia, which had their own centers, the Scholae Medicorum, but they never amounted to a significant social force. They were regarded as subversive along with all the other collegia.Doctors were nevertheless influential. They liked to write. Compared to the number of books written, not many have survived; for example, Tiberius Claudius Menecrates composed 150 medical works, of which only a few fragments remain. Some that did remain almost in entirety are the works of Galen, Celsus, Hippocrates and the herbal expert, Pedanius Dioscorides who wrote the 5-volume De Materia Medica.

Military medical corps

Republican

 The state of the military medical corps before Augustus is unclear. Corpsmen certainly existed at least for the administration of first aid and were enlisted soldiers rather than civilians. The commander of the legion was held responsible for removing the wounded from the field and insuring that they got sufficient care and time to recover. He could quarter troops in private domiciles if he thought necessary.

Imperial  

The army of the early empire was sharply and qualitatively different. If military careers were now possible, so were careers for military specialists, such as medici. Under Augustus for the first time occupational names of officers and functions began to appear in inscriptions. The term medici ordinarii in the inscriptions must refer to the lowest ranking military physicians. No doctor was in any sense “ordinary”. They were to be feared and respected. During his reign, Augustus finally conferred the dignitas equestris, or social rank of knight, on all physicians, public or private. They were then full citizens and could wear the rings of knights. In the army there was at least one other rank of physician, the medicus duplicarius, “medic at double pay”, and, as the legion had milites sesquiplicarii, “soldiers at 1.5 pay”, perhaps the medics had that pay grade as well.

Practice

Medical corps in battle worked on the battlefield bandaging soldiers. From the aid station the wounded went by horse-drawn ambulance to other locations, ultimately to the camp hospitals in the area. There they were seen by the medici vulnerarii, or surgeons, the main type of military doctor. They were given a bed in the hospital if they needed it and one was available. The larger hospitals could administer 400-500 beds.A base hospital was quadrangular with barracks-like wards surrounding a central courtyard. On the outside of the quadrangle were private rooms for the patients. Although unacquainted with bacteria, Roman medical doctors knew about contagion and did their best to prevent it. Rooms were isolated, running water carried the waste away, and the drinking and washing water was tapped up the slope from the latrines.Within the hospital were operating rooms, kitchens, baths, a dispensary, latrines, a mortuary and herb gardens, as doctors relied heavily on herbs for drugs.. They operated or otherwise treated with scalpels, hooks, levers, drills, probes, forceps, catheters and arrow-extractors on patients anesthetized with morphine. Instruments were boiled before use. Wounds were washed in vinegar and stitched. Broken bones were placed in traction. There is, however, evidence of wider concerns. A vaginal speculum suggests gynecology was practiced, and an anal speculum implies knowledge that the size and condition of internal organs accessible through the orifices was an indication of health. They could extract eye cataracts with a special needle. Operating room amphitheaters indicate that medical education was ongoing. Many have proposed that the knowledge and practices of the medici were not exceeded until the 20th century CE.

Regulation of medicine

By the late empire the state had taken more of a hand in regulating medicine. The law codes of the 4th century CE, such as the Codex Theodosianus, paint a picture of a medical system enforced by the laws and the state apparatus. At the top was the equivalent of a surgeon general of the empire. He was by law a noble, a dux (duke) or a vicarius (vicar) of the emperor. He held the title of comes archiatorum, “count of the chief healers.” The Greek word iatros, “healer”, was higher-status than the Latin medicus.Under the comes were a number of officials called the archiatri, or more popularly the protomedicisupra medicosdomini medicorum or superpositi medicorum. They were paid by the state. It was their function to supervise all the medici in their districts; i.e., they were the chief medical examiners. Their families were exempt from taxes. They could not be prosecuted nor could troops be quartered in their homes.The archiatri were divided into two groups:

Archiatri sancti palatii, who were palace physicians

Archiatri populares. They were required to provide for the poor; presumably, the more prosperous still provided for themselves.

The archiatri settled all medical disputes. Rome had 14 of them; the number in other communities varied from 5 to 10 depending on the population.

 

 

 

Medical college education: NEET cut off variation: any moral questions by society, celebrities and media?


Going by selection of candidates as doctors, If given a choice, by whom  a patient will like to get treated? A candidate who scored 20 % marks or a person getting 60% or 80%  marks.   NEET eligibility getting lower and  a  candidate getting around 20 % of marks  may be able to secure a degree to treat patients.  What will be the deciding factor? The criteria as to why a person with 60%  marks will  not be given a seat and with 20% marks will be able to secure. It will depend upon, whether  a student  is able to pay the exorbitant fee or not. Present system and mechanism of admission permit and accept such huge  variation! That strange equation is acceptable in lieu of money paid!

In this whole process, who will be the sufferer?

Is it only the  meritorious  and honest candidate. children who has worked hard are going to lose faith in system, besides irreversible damage to career.

– the people and society, who wish for best doctors.

– in general, honesty and hard work and merit is a causality.

– But in the long run candidate, who purchase degrees with money  may also suffer. As in the times of consumerism and risk associated with less desirable medical services. Candidates may themselves be at risk. Rich candidates may be capable of becoming health investors and health managers by money power, so as to evade  the increasing litigation. But  those from average family backgrounds ,who practice as doctors, will  be at some risk in today’s  difficult environment   for doctors.

 Exit  exams from these paid colleges  need to be better regulated. These colleges are minting money for distributing degrees. Likely is that, ultimately  most of the  students will pass and try to recover  their investments.

Infrastructure ,  number of teachers and investment on training is unlikely to be uniform in such colleges.   It is a matter of speculation, how much facilities a student gets, specially at a time uncertainty  about uniformity of medical education is a matter of great debate. It is also doubtful that money charged  from students as fee, is spent on medical education of the aspiring doctors.

      National exit exam may solve uniformity issues to some extent, but like NEET, its correct  implementation is a big   uncertainty itself.  Doctors have to listen comments about quality of doctors everyday. Rather than doctors themselves, it is the system to select them  needs improvement, which permit and accepts such huge variation in marks and fee.  Someone will definitely ponder, why one should not get best available candidate as doctor?  

 

 

Happy doctors day:  merely a hollow slogan?


On 1st of July, doctors are usually greeted from multiple quarters. Newspapers, media and some prominent people  congratulate doctors in their speeches or on their social media pages. However, what doctors need are not just verbal wishes but reinforcement of public’s belief in them . It is this renewal of faith in their saviour which will help  doctors in discharging their duties smoothly and in alleviating their problems.

National Doctor’s Day: India, USA

Despite the paucity of the highly trained medical professionals, the identity of medical professionals as a community in society is not getting its due right  because of  misplaced priorities of  certain people. The society tries to impose a stereotype role on them in an effort to control them fully. And as a result of these various controls, regulations and public pressure, doctors experience unrealistic performance pressure on professional front.

     Doctor is the pivot  point between patients, medical industry, government and insurance sector. Huge number of patients, expensive medicines, poor medical infrastructure has produced tremendous resentment against medical system amongst public. But the brunt of this entire angst has to be borne by the doctor or medical professionals alone. Often they are blamed for circumstances beyond their control and punished for system failure. Fear of public wrath and lawsuits is smothering the medical profession.  And increasingly there is a feeling amongst medical professionals that they are getting a raw deal despite doing their very best.

     In such a situation, there should be some introspection by all stakeholders every year, on doctor’s day. The doctor’s day should be more than just greetings and wishes for doctors. Some real resolutions need to be  taken so that their working atmosphere and eventually delivery of medical care is improved and this ultimately will benefit patients only.  I can think of some much needed changes-

1.       Government should take some concrete decision to improve medical  infrastructure and manpower. A better planning needs to be done to spend more for health of people, availability of resources and for improving the working conditions for doctors. Government should ensure that doctors are better protected.

2.       Medical industry should collectively think of protecting doctors or there should be provision for some financialresponsibility of medical lawsuits of all doctors.  Pharmacy industry, medical device industry, insurance industry  and others earn huge profits because doctors need to use their products. Although medical industry makes huge profits still they remain behind the scene.

3.       Police should provide  assured protection to  doctors better against physical violence.

4.       Medical education institutes should resolve to promote the education of best doctors and not indulge in profiteering in education of doctors.

5.       Courts should take an initiative to protect doctors against frivolous lawsuits ( which are often done to prevent paying their bills), revengeful attitude of patients  and harassment?

6.       On doctor’s day, public should resolve that they will not unnecessarily fight or abuse the doctor.

7.       And last but most important is that all medical practioners , be it allopathic, ayurvedic, unani, homoeopathic or others who play a role in maintaining health of patients, affirm that they will do everything to protect dignity and integrity of this profession.

If the above are not practised and followed, then mere sloganeering on doctor’s day  makes no sense . The  effort to improve training and working condition of doctors has to come from the bottom of the heart of all those involve, both giver and taker.  Mere tokenism on a day in a year is of no real purpose. If the present scenario continues, soon a common man will have problem in accessing good medical care which is currently available at nominal cost . One needs to ponder seriously, if we do not save doctors, who will save us? 

Death declaration by doctor: complex communication skill. “No negligence in alive baby declared dead: hospital “


The death pronouncement is one of the most sensitive and complex part of communication in and out of hospital, intensive care. It comprises more than the actual declaration of death. It may be a relatively straight forward when the death is expected and the family is mentally prepared and accepting the outcome. However, when the doctor is interacting with a grief-stricken family, dealing with the death of a child, or coming to terms with the death of a personal patient, a death pronouncement becomes complex. Problem is compounded often in presence of violent relatives, non acceptance of death, medico legal cases and   especially in cases of unnatural causes for the death. Relatives often refuse to accept death and within no time mobs swell in number, threatening of physical and verbal assaults and revenge against the doctor in various forms. Although there can be specific protocols and hospital policies, it will still depend upon the timely thoughts and skills of the doctor, how to handle the situation. Doctors should be better trained for handling of death as it can put them in risky situation, because of following reasons.

  1. Death itself is a complex issue. Even today modern science has not reached scientifically at the bottom of life and death.
  2. Communication of death is complex. It varies with each patient, type of relatives, place, country and every situation in same hospital is different.
  3. Declaration of death is a legal matter. How a doctor verifies death, communicates and documents death, it can create legal and other problems for doctor.

Any problem related to declaration of death is immediately picked by media and the initial reaction is to blame the doctors. The doctors in such cases are projected as incompetent and callous, and that makes a media news. Invariably one stray incidence is used as to project whole medical community in negative manner. Later inquiries and further inquiring continue, and even later truth emerges, that is not enough to bring back the lost prestige for medical profession.

Take for example the latest news of “ Alive Baby declared dead.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/alive-newborn-declared-dead/articleshow/59208765.cms

Later after two days, news was “ hospital enquiry claims No negligence in alive baby declared dead”

link   http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-no-medical-negligence-in-case-where-newborn-was-declared-dead-2479826

Above news just conveys the complexity of situation, doctors often face. My aim here is to convey  that communication of death is a very complex subject. Ironically no structured training of emotional, communicative and legal issues is imparted to medical students. But they are supposed to face the situation everyday, when they function as doctors.

 

Most legal determinations of death are certified by medical professionals who pronounce death when specific criteria are met. Two categories of legal death are death determined by irreversible cessation of heartbeat and breathing (cardiopulmonary death), and death determined by irreversible cessation of functions of the brain (brain death).

Especially new doctors need to realize that the structure of modern society is to make life and death, medical and then legal matters, and to subject the most basic elements of our existence to professional authority. The birth certificate and the death certificate are signed by doctors, and then registered by the civil authorities.  Because of all  these sensitive issues, emotional aspects and legal dimensions of death being  huge, so need more attention. .

In remote areas doctors are totally alone and helpless, so security issues will remain. There is no solution in sight for these problems. Already I have written about a “real story of female doctor assault”.

Problem is that doctors during training days or residency are not trained in such kind of communication. Although while doing their duties they observe seniors and learn how they are communicating. But still when actual situations arise, which can be diverse, complex and challenging, and everyday getting more demanding. In view of current scenario against doctors, they need better training on these issues. Basic question is, if doctor needs help, where can he turn to for help or information. The resources, other staff and the setup is not of much help in difficult scenarios.  It is not uncommon that doctors are left to themselves, if a difficult situation arises. Medical education and Hospital systems need to be better equipped to provide more support to doctors in present era. For doctors, if they make a mistake, there is no one to support them or save them from verbal, physical assaults, law and medico legal cases.

Harassment is tremendous. Therefore   doctors, be careful – save the patient, but save yourself also.

Artemis doctors, CEO booked for negligence: how to save medical lawsuit in case of post operative complications?


Doctors save the patient, but save yourself also.

News of this kind brings tsunami of fear in minds of doctors all over. Not only doctors, but patients also fear that something like this should not happen to them. In general, it will also create a negative impact on trust of patients, because it reflects that harm is a result of blunder done by doctors.

Artemis Hospital Gurgaon, its CEO, medical director, medical superintendent, and three other doctors of the hospital were booked on  Sunday, based on the complaint of the husband of a patient who died in the hospital in August last year after undergoing treatment in it for two months. (link)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/artemis-docs-ceo-booked-for-negligence/articleshow/59008481.cms

Reality and impact of this scenario may be a bit different from what is usually conveyed and is suffocating medical profession as a whole, all over the world, in some form or the other. Loss to the patient is immense and with sympathy wave against the doctor, everybody will cry for harshest punishment for the doctors. For a human error (which is called negligence), an unintentional harm and failure to anticipate a difficult situation has landed doctors in a soup. The   situations, which are detected by retrospective analysis along  with wisdom of hindsight are challenging and are real trouble. Real time diagnosis  may not always be possible to anticipate and often difficult.

As a doctor, I am forced to ponder whether by punishing the doctors in harshest way for unintentional errors, especially for one incident is the solution to the problem.

  • Can treatment and surgeries be made complication free anywhere? Unless everything is done by a Robot and computers.
  • If consequences of one mistake are such horrifying, will doctors be able to do work, especially in difficult situations free of fear? Or really should they opt for being in such situations?
  • If lots of doctors do not want difficult situations, what will happen to patients?

Difficult scenario for doctors, as even simple surgeries can lead to big complications in certain situations.  Not frequently, situations are unpredictable. So, what should doctors do to avoid to be in such difficult scenario?

How to survive medical lawsuit in post operative complications: Reality is that complications are part and parcel of treatment and surgeries. There will always an element of unintentional harm, whatsoever treatment is being done.No doctor can guess, which patient is going to have complications and give saviour the lifetime pain and shame. It is like a bad lottery. Only improvement can be made is to decrease the number of complications and timely recognition.  How to avoid such problems?

  1. Just be extra careful, extra conscious. Always have in mind that something can happen. It may lead to defensive practice, but that may be the need of the hour.
  2. Due to irony of present era, the preparation of saving yourself, the doctor has to start from the time the preparation of surgery starts. Most important part is consent. Doctor cannot predict, which patient will have what kind of complications. Detailed consent with detailed list of complications have to be mentioned and told to patient and relatives and duly signed with witness. Complications, although rare must be mentioned.
  3. Separate consent for anaesthesia to be obtained along with complications.
  4. Must check for coagulation profile and presence of infection in body.
  5. Risk to be assessed besides actual surgery, for other factors.
  6. Simple surgeries become high risk because of malnutrition, infections, low albumin levels and presence of other medical illness like diabetes, cancer, cardiac ailments. In presence of other factors, high risk consent to be taken.
  7. Never ever risk is to be understated, for the thought that patient will not agree, in case he is told about all the possible complications and risks.
  8. Careful surgery, with high index of suspicion for possibility of complications is required. Never be overconfident. Complication can happen in hands of most experienced people also.
  9. Post operatively : maintain a good record of vitals and pain. If patient is having problem, go to every detailed investigations to rule out your worst fears. Investigations will cost some money and people may accuse you temporarily of getting extra investigations. But it is better not to be accused later for criminal charges and losing all your peace of mind and reputation.
  10. Never discharge a patient, while problems are unresolved. May get a CT scan done and let people accuse you again for getting extra investigation . Time is such that doctors will be blamed and accused for something or the other by retrospective analysis. Let us take a smaller accusation. Later there no body will be forgiving.
  11. If you are not convinced or patient is unable to understand the risk, opt out of surgery. Doing few less procedures will not harm you.
  12. Upgrade quality assurance program of hospital and your department. With aim to minimize complications and early detection.
  13. Periodic audit of medical records.
  14. Medical Indemnity insurance: importance of indemnity insurance is immense these days. Be careful of not disclosing the medical indemnity insurance coverage, because litigant lawyer or patient may exploit it for litigation purposes.

 

Not infrequently, whole scenario becomes a story of revenge against the doctor, even for routine complications and naturally poor prognosis of disease. Therefore, Doctors – save the patient, but save yourself also.

 

 

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