Millions of preventable disease deaths: whose moral burden is it?


Diseases can be  preventable or unpreventable, have  good  or  bad prognosis. But once patient  enters hospital,  what ever may be the reason or genesis of ailment, it becomes a moral responsibility of doctors.  Health care professionals  can be trash-talked   or ridiculed by media and anyone, even for worst prognostic cases.   But  large numbers of deaths   happen  due to preventable causes like accidents , drains, live electric wires, water contamination, dengue, malaria, recurring floods  etc. In fact the burden of   negligence here is massive and  these deaths are unpardonable.   Who ultimately carries the moral burden of millions of  preventable deaths?

Common causes of  such  disease, sufferings  and death , specially in developing and poor countries:

  1. Dietary risks and diseases spread by  water sanitation and hygiene.   These  have  direct  linked with bad sanitation and poor hygiene practices. Poor sanitation is the leading cause of diarrhea, malnutrition, cholera, jaundice ( hepatitis A and E) , worm infestations, typhoid and other enteric fevers, which lead to chronic malnutrition and lowered immunity that further feed the infectious disease cycle.  Apart from infectious disease like diarrhea, but also pneumonia and tuberculosis, which are leading killers across all age groups.
  2. Undernourishment in   children  will cause them to be  underweight, stunted and wasted, and makes them  more vulnerable to infections. They are at higher risk of dying of childhood infections.

Working sewage-disposal systems, waste disposal management, protection of water supply from contamination and hand-washing practices are essential components to reduce preventable deaths.

  1. Poor sanitation, unsafe water and low public health also increase drug-resistant infections in low-income and middle-income countries. Lowering of antibiotic consumption  can not be achieved  because superbugs ,  and antibiotic resistance  are already in the environment and continue to spread through contaminated food, water and hospital equipment.

Antibiotics overuse is rampant as they are  used to treat diarrhea and upper respiratory tract infections. Improving sanitation, providing clean water, adopting personal hygiene and getting vaccinated can reduce infections.

  1. Air pollution : air pollution is a public health crisis.  Masses are forced to breathe in air which  contains pollutants  in  unsafe limits, some are carcinogenic. It  is a cause of  millions of deaths  It is besides many fold of this number live their life with morbidity. Polluting vehicles, industry, lesser trees and plantations, poor practices and not enough governance and policies have resulted in poisonous air to breathe. Diseases like COPD, asthma and lung cancer are few common ailments.
  2. A::Dog bite (rabies ), Animal poop and Human – animal interface:   Not properly disposed  animal poop is a  cause of generation of infections and diseases, requiring heavy use of antibiotics and consequently leads to emergence of further antibiotic resistance bacteria. This cycle of production of infections and use of antibiotics perpetuates a vicious cycle.  Stray animals still defecate at every place.  Poop of Stray dogs, cattle and pigs stays in environment and causes life threatening infections. Hundreds of diseases are described due to poor control of human animal interface.

But stray animals and dogs are everywhere. Owner of pet dogs make them defecate outside their own houses and on the roads and wherever their dogs chooses. This poop dried and mixed with dust, acts a source of infection to the community.

         B::   Life threatening infections : dog’s and animal faeces is a big health hazard. It is even worse than a dog bite since it spreads infection in entire community. Animal faeces contain pathogens, which are known to cause severe diseases, infections and organ failure. Many diseases may be spread by millions of these dogs and other animals like pigs, cattle as their faeces contain parasites, bacteria and viruses. These include life threatening bacterial infections by E. coli, MRSA, Leptospira, Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis, brucellosis, Rickettsia and parasitic infections like  Giardiasis, Whipworm, Hookworm, Roundworms, Tapeworms,    Cryptosporidiosis, Echinococcosis, Leishmaniasis etc. Viral infections like rabies, influenza and other viruses may also spread through these animals.

               C:: Environmental health Hazard: Storm water runoff due to extensive rainfall can wash off all these droppings into drains, many of which are connected to river systems and water sources.  This can lead to a widespread source of waterborne illnesses. Dry  poop on the roads is mixed with dust particles and in the air. So everyone is living in a highly infectious environment.

6.     Mosquito borne diseases: millions die because of vector borne disease , as mosquito control  has been inadequate.  Malaria, dengue,  chickengunya  and many other lethal  diseases spread  due to mosquitoes.

 

7.      Preventable natural disasters exacerbated by human activity: floods, famine, disease outbreaks.

8.      Road, rail  accidents and other accidents: are mostly  preventable errors.

         The role of health care professionals in present day circumstances remains misunderstood and underappreciated, as they assume the responsibility for continuous care of the sick or injured. People who have never treated a patient  in their life time influence health policies, which effects  millions. Excessive preventable deaths are  just a symptoms of a larger problem.  Who  is the one who feels moral burden of millions of preventable deaths?

     .

 

Women doctor and nurses more prone to work–life imbalance


 

Being a health provider  is a tough and stressful job. In any hospital, work goes on during  day and night. Rather many times nights are more heavy and challenging. The systems at odd hours are run by doctors and nurses. Continuous requirement to do odd time shifts, hard training and work demands tend to affect the overall work-life balance of doctors and nurses.

For women, it is particularly more stressful. As at some stage of life, both professional and personal roles become too demanding.  Expectation at both fronts is guided by the idea of perfection. Perception of deviation from the ideal or little imperfection   can lead to sense of aversion, linked to  average performance for them.  If they try to match the ambitions, want more in career, from the partner, children, or themselves, face the real risk of burn out. The cognizance  that perfection cannot be matched or arduous to achieve, in their circumstances, is hard to be realized  at both places.   The quest and  passion of  the women doctors or nurses, to seek perfection at both places, makes them  more prone for  burnout. This  is  a consequence to  a grave exhaustion, in their bid  to balance everything.  Woman doctors and nurses, are specially  more susceptible to stress of a kind,  as most of them face the same ordeal.

Family priority:

Perception of role identity at home  is little different on  being a woman doctor/nurse.  Male doctors are in a better position to  prioritize their work duties over their family duties  in order to  provide financial support for their families. For female doctors , there is a natural tendency to  prioritize their family life.

  Inflexibility or shift working a routine:    

         The  issues will always remain, like spending long hours at work due to inflexibility, or requirement to do shift  duties , need to stay more with patient and training requirements. For females it is very common and  frequently  lead to an imbalance between work and family duties.   More  time spent at work has an direct impact    on family requirements. Sometimes  there are financial requirements of the family, for which they are forced to  negate the effect on family duties.  In such situations they are unable to successfully complete these family duties.

High career ambitions:

Higher  education leads  to ambitions for higher social recognition and better career orientation. These goals are another  reason for taking this dual stress.  In order to correct this  imbalance, many  women doctors  expose themselves to unsolicited job stress. This reflect  in lives as chronic lack of time and  leads to pressure and stress.  The mentioned stresses and strains could lead in the long term to irreversible, physical signs of wear and tear, as well as to negative effects on the human cardiovascular and immune systems.

   Prolonged and odd working hours:

In medical profession,  simply working hard is not enough anymore. To get ahead, a rigorous training, prolonged working hours are  new standards. There is very  little time left to be divided   among relationships, kids, and sleep.

 

Conflict by Perception:

The conflict of work and family is further exacerbated  by perceived deviation from being a  good worker  at  work place and  ideal mother at  home. At work  place, they are looked as less dedicated and similarly at home as well.  Lack of organizational support  for doctors/nurses is main reason for these kind of imbalance.  They are squeezed in between  pressures at work and demands at home.

Extending families:

These day, pressures are so high that  many young women doctors,  want to just stay at home and do housework without having careers. May  give up careers to have children. It strikes to young doctors as a surprise, simply how difficult it is to build a family. The learning curve of taking care of family along with professional  responsibilities is too steep. In such situations, when everything is compounded, with  workload, it becomes utterly exhaustive.

Motherhood:

Breaks taken for family requirements may be taken as red flags, by employers. Delivery and feeding child become  difficult tasks specially in clinical branches, where long duties are routine.

Motherhood needs to be squeezed in between the requirement of profession. Changes in schedule or adjustments made are perceived as “being different”.

While women are increasingly represented in the medical field, they still face challenges balancing work and home life. The frustrations manifest in  burnout and dissatisfaction within a field they once enjoyed.

also read: work-life imbalance for doctors/nurse & consequences

 

Medical Consumer Protection Act: Root of “Us and Them Syndrome”. Effect on medical profession


In present scenario, when patient is no more “patient” and  defined as consumer, doctors is not more than a service provider. With  Medical Consumer Protection Act acquired roots,  the whole system of medical delivery  and healthcare has changed. Most striking is this  entire fiasco is the “Us and Them” syndrome that seems to afflicted  every one. Doctors are pitted against every one, for example,  Doctors vs administrators, doctors vs patients, doctor vs managers. From regulation, insurance and legal system, every change has affected doctors adversely. They have been reduced to just only one component  of the industry, who deliver care and remain at receiving end. Other important stake holder are patients. How this change has been beneficial for patients? Suppressed professionals  can be used to work more, get less paid and can be dragged to court. So fear of all kinds will make them more  careful. It should be a win-win situation for all, except doctors. Therefore everyone makes merry, while doctors sulk, except those who can mingle with the present scenario and act smart in  changed business and legal milieu.

reblogged

Negatives effect on medical profession: cons or disadvantages of  medical consumer Protection Act

  1. Promotes Defensive medicine: Every patient with any illness has potential to complications. Progression of any disease state can cause death.  If doctors start looking at every patient as a potential litigant, especially those who are dealing with very sick ones,  practice of defensive practice is a natural consequence. This may manifest as excessive investigations, more use of drugs and antibiotics  and even  sometimes even refusal to treat very sick patients. Worst scenario of excessive fear will be  refusal of very sick patients in emergency situations or non availability of doctors.
  2. Erosion of doctor-patient relationship: stray and occasional Incidents about negligence and the cases in courts or  their outcome are given wide publicity in media. People are unable to understand the correct  application of such stray incidents to themselves. But they always try to imagine themselves in the scenario applied. Because of prejudiced notions, a sense of mistrust gradually creeps in,  which then extends to and involves their own treating doctor .This sense of mistrust multiplies manifold whenever there is  some adverse or even small unpleasant  Ultimately doctor and patients move forward together with a strained relationship and the treatment goes on with a surmounting sense of mistrust.
  3.  Increased cost of care:   With the creeping in of practice of defensive medicine, there is a need to document everything and to offer everything possible in the world, leading to inflated  medical costs.  Insurance  companies and lawyers have positioned themselves in between. They charge everyone heavily for allaying the fears , both  patients(medical insurance, lawyer fee) and doctors(indemnity insurance, lawyer’s fee) alike. The vicious cycle of rising costs , need for insurance, medicolegal suits, high lawyer fee (for patients and doctors) goes on unabated. All these contribute significantly to overall increased cost of health care.
  4. Enhanced insecurity in medical profession : Needless to say,  consumer protection act has increased the anxiety  and insecurity in  the medical profession. One keeps wondering which patient will prove to be his bane and finish his total career or will result in professional hanging or a media trial, with these having real probability in today’s day to day practice.
  5. Unnecessary litigation: Legal cases can be put on doctors for various trivial reasons e.g  for sense of revenge or to extract money or simply for not having to pay for services.  In an era where family members , brothers and sisters fight for money, it will be naïve to think that idea of making money from doctor does not exist. These are further stoked by the incidents of previous high compensations granted  by courts .
  6. Increased paper work: excessive documentation and time consumption: crucial and large chunk of time of doctors and nurses, goes in completing documentation. Needless to say, this time previously was dedicated solely to patient service. Management is now-a days more worried about completing paper work as well. Initially it was a symbolic documentation , but now there is requirement of mammoth paper work. It leads to consumption of time  that was meant for real discussions for the benefit of patients.
  7. Doctors used as scapegoats for revenge : Any unsatisfied patient can vent his anger by putting complaint or case  against the doctor .  This is done to some extent for revenge or  trying to find some   human factor which can be punished. Not uncommonly doctors are used as  scapegoat to have  a concession on the patient treatment by health organizations. Everything can be easily put on doctors as they are universal final link to a patient’s treatment and adverse effects.
  8. Distraction of doctors from the primary point of intention:  Nothing else ever has  distracted doctors  more than these medico-legal cases and punishments. In many cases, saving themselves becomes more important than saving a patient. Uncertainty of prognosis, grave emergencies and split second life saving and risky  decisions which may later be proved wrong by retrospective analysis, complex  medico-legal situations are endless distractions that have creep in and are enough to distract doctors from primary point of intention.
  9. Early retirement or burn out:  Becoming a doctor and practicing has become a tough job. After people have reached a point of financial security or when near point of burn out, doctors tend to leave practice. No wise man will like to face medico-legal complexities in older age. Taken to court for a genuine decision by self  is enough to spoil and tarnish  health, wealth and fame earned by  grilling the whole life.
  10. Reluctance to do emergency, risky work: If the decision to decide or act or help someone in an emergency situation, puts ones own life and career to risk, why should one put oneself in that deciding position?  Therefore increasingly, financially secure doctors are staying away from the riskier jobs.
  11. Only Doctors are sufferers of the act: Patient can have poor outcome because of any reason. It can be severe disease, poor prognosis, rare or genuine complications or even unintentional mistake or human errors, system errors or deficiency. But retrospectively doctors can easily be blamed because of wisdom of hindsight.  All patients with unrealistic or unexpected outcome can go to courts. Whatever court decides, harassment of doctors is full and permanent. There is no compensation possible for the sufferings and agony spanned over years, even if court decides in favour of doctor.
  12. Spoils teamwork among doctors; Whenever there is adverse outcome in any patient, all the doctors involved may start looking  for whom to blame  among themselves. All of them will try to pinpoint other’s mistake.  Such situation produces a bitter and worst kind of disagreements among various teams or specialties. Mutual understandings take a back seat and the teamwork is spoiled permanently. Administrators in a bid to be safe, encourage putting doctor’s concerns against each other, creating a strange sense of enmity. Ultimately  a mutual understanding and team work takes a hit.
  13. Hugely benefited are medical industry, law industry and administrators; Rampant misuse of consumer protection act has instilled a sense of deep fear in mind of medical professionals. The act has been used as a whip for doctors by all these three stakeholders. Fear of medico-legal cases has reduced doctors to cheap labour. Industry has used the protective systems to gain out of doctors hard work.  Benefits to law industry are obvious and don’t need to be elaborated. Besides this, even insurance industry has collected money both from doctors and patients by creating the fear.
  14. Right decisions or wisdom of hindsight?; A certain element of doubt always remains in minds of doctor whether he will get justice in the long run, or will end up being victim of sympathy towards patient or clever lawyering.  What was medically right and judicious decision at that real time situation may look wrong later  retrospectively, especially when retrospective analysis  is done over years with fault finding approach.
  15. Delayed treatment in emergency situations: Due to prejudiced minds, it is not uncommon for patient’s relatives to keep seeking second opinion, thereby delaying consent for procedures, surgeries and treatment. Though doctors know this problem but they obviously cannot proceed without necessary documentation. With increasing mistrust, even emergency treatments are delayed only to repent later.  
  16. Instigation by law industry; Windfall profits for lawyers and law industry at the cost of doctors is a disadvantage for medical profession: One can see zero fee and fixed commission advertisements on television by lawyers in health systems even in  developed countries. They lure and instigate patients to file law suits and promise them hefty reimbursements. There is no dearth of such relatives, lawyers who are ready to try their luck sometimes in vengeance and sometimes for lure of money received in compensations.  This encouragement and instigation of lawsuit against doctors is a major disadvantage for medical profession.

 

  1. Hostile environment for young impressionable doctors: The young and bright doctors complete their long arduous  training and then suddenly find themselves working in a hostile environment, at the receiving end of public wrath, law and  media for reasons they can’t fathom. They face continuous negative publicity, poor infrastructure and preoccupied negative beliefs of society.
  2. Subject of continuous blackmail: Even with routine complications amongst very sick patients, a threat looms over doctor’s head. People do not accept even the genuine complication, what to talk of unintentional mistakes.  Mistakes are always easy to  pinpoint with retrospective analysis and with lawyers pondering over it for years. In such situations , doctors are sitting ducks for  any kind of

 

 

 Positives, Pros or advantages of medical consumer protection act:

Although there are doubts, whether it will have any positive effect in long term, except monitory benefit to patient’s relatives and lawyers.

  1.     Quick  redressal of grievances:  patient will get satisfaction, if there is a genuine negligence case
  2.  Better quality of care will increase;  medical systems will improve as they will need to lessens the errors and  court cases. Better systems from abroad are also copied to improve the efficiency.
  3. Better introspection by medical profession: although doctors from the beginning are sensitive about their work and always look at how better results can be achieved. But act will make this process more formal and official.
  4. Training of medical professionals: it will be difficult  to put  errors under carpet.  Doctor will like to get trained better as no one want to be in soup.
  5. Future  learning from court cases:  each and every court decisions  is viewed carefully by medical fraternity. Improvement in protocol and policy making is a natural consequence.
  6. 6. Eye openers for medical profession: court cases and decisions have acted as eye opener for medical profession. It gives an idea, how law looks at medical treatment. It has made clear that medical science and medical law are a bit different. In real time, things are easier to be said than done.
  7. 7. Better documentation and communication: Doctors to save themselves, documentation is the key. Previously doctors were doing everything, but not documenting. But now there is lot of stress on documentation.

   Stress itself is not a bad thing. It can often help us perform at our best, expand beyond our limits and  achieve  better results.   The real problem lies in the fact that In this age of  anxiety prevailing more for care givers,  do not get enough relief  from stress.

        But sad thing about this kind of learning is that it is at the cost of few, unfortunate doctors, who were in difficult situation, actually suffered, did not know the legal implications  of  their acts or  situation. Most of the time, it is a system failure, but blame can be pinpointed to doctor.

May be The Act has good intention, but its practical application in its present form may cause more harm than good.    If the core of the health care  (medical hands) are harmed, no one can benefit in the long run.

Work-life imbalance for doctors/nurses & consequences


 

For doctor and nurses, time of work and action is determined by need of the patient. Whereas in most of other professions, time of  work  can be carried out at any convenient time. As a routine, most of the  human being  work  during day time, by  convention that is 9 AM to 5 PM . whereas, It is not uncommon for medical and nursing professionals to have more heavier  and challenging night shifts.  Most of clinical branches, doctor and nurses  remain busy through out night.

Across the globe, in the  medical systems, specially  not so well organized, it is  a common routine  for the  doctor to get night calls  everyday and  lots of them  rarely gets undisturbed normal sleep.

Needless to say that doctors and nurses do a herculean task to stream line their family and professional life. Kudos to those, who can nurture their hobbies, along with difficult clinical branches. Maintaining a work-life balance remains a distant dream for most of successful clinicians. This balance can be defined as a satisfaction gained by spending time on activities according to one’s wishes, which are besides their clinical work.

Areas of life other than work–life may  include  personal interests, family, social or leisure activities or hobbies.

Work–life  imbalance is the lack of  proper alignment  between work and other important life roles. It is a kind of balanced  state of time, achieved by spending time  on  demands of personal life, professional life and family life, that  is satisfying.  Work-life balance  is not limited to flexible work arrangements  to carry out other life programs and practices.  Work-life balance is a term commonly used to describe the balance that a working individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of satisfying life.

The thing that strikes as a  surprise  to most of doctors  of  starting a family  is simply how difficult it is. The learning curve of taking care of family  along with professional responsibilities is  so steep,   While working as doctor  in learning or training  phase, parenting requires  an abundance of energy, time, and grit

And when the responsibilities of being a parent are compounded with the realities of being a trainee doctor, it starts to be too much. It never feels like enough time for anything and  it really becomes utterly exhausting. There is always a struggle constantly with the balance of spending quality time with  family,  trying to study and perform well.  There is little time for hobbies or doing things  to  maintain  sanity of mind.

The environment of work today for doctors has become  more intense with legal issues,  burdening much more   than it was few  decades ago. Burdens beyond clinical work and associated stress  have   created  the need for a better  balance between work and life. Doctors have started thinking to devise or alter  the working in an effort to have a better balance. Experience of  being over-worked, long working hours and an extreme work environment has proven to affect the overall physical and psychological health of  doctors  and deteriorate family-life.

Although there are no structured studies on the issue, but doctors have started feeling difficulty balancing work and family. But the effects are already evident like alcohol and drug abuse, increased rates of divorce and suicides. Increased feeling of stress and  early burnout is an  natural outcome. Doctors,  who have attained  stage of financial security tend to have an early retirement, or reduce working hours.

Consequences of work–life imbalance

Problems caused by imbalance and consequent stress  has become a source of major concern for doctors and nurses.  Symptoms of stress can  result in  both physiologically and psychologically changes. Profession suffers as the workplace becomes the  greatest source of stress.

Persistent stress can result in cardiovascular disease, sexual health problems, a weaker immune system and frequent headaches. It can also result in poor coping skills, irritability, jumpiness, insecurity, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating. Stress may also perpetuate or lead to binge eating, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

In medical profession,  simply working hard is not enough anymore. To get ahead, a rigorous trainings, prolonged working hours are  new standards. There is very  little time left to be divided   among relationships, kids, and sleep.

This ordeal is prolonged over years  results in  less time spent with family, friends, and community as well as pursuing activities that one enjoys and taking the time to grow personally. Even close friends and  relatives slowly start  becoming distant.

Extending family and becoming new parents  causes  extreme stress  in doctor’s life.  It can have  negative effects.  Between trying to balance a new schedule, managing additional responsibilities, and lacking flexibility and support, they can only increase stress.

Consequently, the evolving system of  health care have made doctors more prone to burnouts. Their  quest to be the  ideal, hard-working, perfectionist ultimately  turns them loner, the grim and stressed individuals.

related article: women doctors  and nurses prone to work- life imbalance

Advantages & disadvantages: pros & cons of medical consumer Protection Act


With patient defined as consumer  and  Medical Consumer Protection Act takes roots,  the whole system of medicine and healthcare has changed. From regulation, insurance and legal system, every change has affected doctors adversely. They have been reduced to just only one component  of the industry, who deliver care and remain at receiving end. Other important stake holder are patients. How this change has been beneficial for patients? Suppressed professionals  can be used to work more, get less paid and can be dragged to court. So fear of all kinds will make them more  careful. It should be a win-win situation for all, except doctors. Therefore everyone makes merry, while doctors sulk, except those who can mingle with the present scenario and act smart in  changed business and legal milieu.

Negatives, cons or disadvantages of medical consumer Protection Act

  1. Promotes Defensive medicine: Every patient with any illness has potential to complications. Progression of any disease state can cause death.  If doctors start looking at every patient as a potential litigant, especially those who are dealing with very sick ones,  practice of defensive practice is a natural consequence. This may manifest as excessive investigations, more use of drugs and antibiotics  and even  sometimes even refusal to treat very sick patients. Worst scenario of excessive fear will be  refusal of very sick patients in emergency situations or non availability of doctors.
  2. Erosion of doctor-patient relationship: stray and occasional Incidents about negligence and the cases in courts or  their outcome are given wide publicity in media. People are unable to understand the correct  application of such stray incidents to themselves. But they always try to imagine themselves in the scenario applied. Because of prejudiced notions, a sense of mistrust gradually creeps in,  which then extends to and involves their own treating doctor .This sense of mistrust multiplies manifold whenever there is  some adverse or even small unpleasant  Ultimately doctor and patients move forward together with a strained relationship and the treatment goes on with a surmounting sense of mistrust.
  3.  Increased cost of care:   With the creeping in of practice of defensive medicine, there is a need to document everything and to offer everything possible in the world, leading to inflated  medical costs.  Insurance  companies and lawyers have positioned themselves in between. They charge everyone heavily for allaying the fears , both  patients(medical insurance, lawyer fee) and doctors(indemnity insurance, lawyer’s fee) alike. The vicious cycle of rising costs , need for insurance, medicolegal suits, high lawyer fee (for patients and doctors) goes on unabated. All these contribute significantly to overall increased cost of health care.
  4. Enhanced insecurity in medical profession : Needless to say,  consumer protection act has increased the anxiety  and insecurity in  the medical profession. One keeps wondering which patient will prove to be his bane and finish his total career or will result in professional hanging or a media trial, with these having real probability in today’s day to day practice.
  5. Unnecessary litigation: Legal cases can be put on doctors for various trivial reasons e.g  for sense of revenge or to extract money or simply for not having to pay for services.  In an era where family members , brothers and sisters fight for money, it will be naïve to think that idea of making money from doctor does not exist. These are further stoked by the incidents of previous high compensations granted  by courts .
  6. Increased paper work: excessive documentation and time consumption: crucial and large chunk of time of doctors and nurses, goes in completing documentation. Needless to say, this time previously was dedicated solely to patient service. Management is now-a days more worried about completing paper work as well. Initially it was a symbolic documentation , but now there is requirement of mammoth paper work. It leads to consumption of time  that was meant for real discussions for the benefit of patients.
  7. Doctors used as scape-goats for revenge : Any unsatisfied patient can vent his anger by putting complaint or case  against the doctor .  This is done to some extent for revenge or after finding  human factor which can be punished. Not uncommonly doctors are used as  scape- goat to have  a concession on the patient treatment by health organizations. Everything can be easily put on doctors as they are universal final link to a patient’s treatment and adverse effects.
  8. Distraction of doctors from the primary point of intention:  Nothing else ever has  distracted doctors  more than these medico-legal cases and punishments. In many cases, saving themselves becomes more important than saving a patient. Uncertainty of prognosis, grave emergencies and split second life saving and risky  decisions which may later be proved wrong by retrospective analysis, complex  medico-legal situations are endless distractions that have creeped in and are enough to distract doctors from primary point of intention.
  9. Early retirement or burn out:  Becoming a doctor and practising has become a tough job. After people have reached a point of financial security or when near point of burn out, doctors tend to leave practice. No wise man will like to face medicolegal complexities in older age. Taken to court for a genuine decision by self  is enough to spoil and tarnish  health, wealth and fame earned by  grilling the whole life.
  10. Reluctance to do emergency, risky work: If the decision to decide or act or help someone in an emergency situation, puts ones own life and career to risk, why should one put oneself in that deciding position?  Therefore increasingly, financially secure doctors are staying away from the riskier jobs.
  11. Only Doctors are sufferers of the act: Patient can have poor outcome because of any reason. It can be severe disease, poor prognosis, rare or genuine complications or even unintentional mistake or human errors, system errors or deficiency. But retrospectively doctors can easily be blamed because of wisdom of hindsight.  All patients with unrealistic or unexpected outcome can go to courts. Whatever court decides, harassment of doctors is full and permanent. There is no compensation possible for the sufferings and agony spanned over years, even if court decides in favour of doctor.
  12. Spoils teamwork among doctors; Whenever there is adverse outcome in any patient, all the doctors involved may start looking  for whom to blame  among themselves. All of them will try to pinpoint other’s mistake.  Such situation produces a bitter and worst kind of disagreements among various teams or specialties. Mutual understandings take a back seat and the teamwork is spoiled permanently. Administrators in a bid to be safe, encourage putting doctor’s concerns against each other, creating a strange sense of enmity. Ultimately  a mutual understanding and team work takes a hit.
  13. Hugely benefitted are medical industry, law industry and administrators; Rampant misuse of consumer protection act has instilled a sense of deep fear in mind of medical professionals. The act has been used as a whip for doctors by all these three stakeholders. Fear of medicolegal cases has reduced doctors to cheap labour. Industry has used the protective systems to gain out of doctors hard work.  Benefits to law industry are obvious and don’t need to be elaborated. Besides this, even insurance industry has collected money both from doctors and patients by creating the fear.
  14. Right decisions or wisdom of hindsight?; A certain element of doubt always remains in minds of doctor whether he will get justice in the long run, or will end up being victim of sympathy towards patient or clever lawyering.  What was medically right and judicious decision at that real time situation may look wrong later  retrospectively, especially when retrospective analysis  is done over years with fault finding approach.
  15. Delayed treatment in emergency situations: Due to prejudiced minds, it is not uncommon for patient’s relatives to keep seeking second opinion, thereby delaying consent for procedures, surgeries and treatment. Though doctors know this problem but they obviously cannot proceed without necessary documentation. With increasing mistrust, even emergency treatments are delayed only to repent later.  
  16. Instigation by law industry; Windfall profits for lawyers and law industry at the cost of doctors is a disadvantage for medical profession: One can see zero fee and fixed commission advertisements on television by lawyers in health systems even in  developed countries. They lure and instigate patients to file law suits and promise them hefty reimbursements. There is no dearth of such relatives, lawyers who are ready to try their luck sometimes in vengeance and sometimes for lure of money received in compensations.  This encouragement and instigations of lawsuit against doctors is a major disadvantage for medical profession.

 

  1. Hostile environment for young impressionable doctors: The young and bright doctors complete their long arduous  training and then suddenly find themselves working in a hostile environment, at the receiving end of public wrath, law and  media for reasons they can’t fathom. They face continuous negative publicity, poor infrastructure and preoccupied negative beliefs of society.
  2. Subject of continuous blackmail: Even with routine complications amongst very sick patients, a threat looms over doctor’s head. People do not accept even the genuine complication, what to talk of unintentional mistakes.  Mistakes are always easy to  pinpoint with retrospective analysis and with lawyers pondering over it for years. In such situations , doctors are sitting ducks for  any kind of

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Positives, Pros or advantages of medical consumer protection act:

Although there are doubts, whether it will have any positive effect in long term, except monitory benefit to patient’s relatives and lawyers.

  1.     Quick  redressal of grievances:  patient will get satisfaction, if there is a genuine negligence case
  2.  Better quality of care ;  medical systems will improve as they will need to lessens the errors and  court cases. Better systems from abroad are also copied to improve the efficiency.
  3. Better introspection by medical profession: although doctors from the beginning are sensitive about their work and always look at how better results can be achieved. But act will make this process more formal and official.
  4. Training of medical professionals: it will be difficult  to put  errors under carpet.  Doctor will like to get trained better as no one want to be in soup.
  5. Future  learning from court cases:  each and every court decisions  is viewed carefully by medical fraternity. Improvement in protocol and policy making is a natural consequence.
  6. . Eye openers for medical profession: court cases and decisions have acted as eye opener for medical profession. It gives an idea, how law looks at medical treatment. It has made clear that medical science and medical law are a bit different. In real time, things are easier to be said than done.
  7.  Better documentation and communication: for  Doctors to save themselves, documentation is the key. Previously doctors were doing everything, but not documenting. But now there is lot of stress on documentation.

   Stress itself is not a bad thing. It can often help us perform at our best, expand beyond our limits and  achieve  better results.   The real problem lies in the fact that In this age of  anxiety prevailing more for care givers,  do not get enough relief  from stress.  If the core of the health care  (medical hands) are harmed, no one can benefit in the long run.

Black coat vs white coat. What if money part is taken out of medico legal cases?


What if  financial part  is taken out of medico-legal issues, like compensation and lawyers fee?  The cases will drop down drastically?  If money part is zero, only errors will be identified and punished. Few  will remain only for idea of revenge.  In an era where people cheat their brothers, sisters and spouses for money, it will be naïve to think that idea of money extracting from doctors does not exist.

Financial  zeroing  can be done  in larger public interest to  keep down the cost of medical expenses.  It is  because of career building of few professions, that medico-legal cases are being fueled. Medical errors and complications are integral part of the treatment . Even simplest of diseases carry some amount of risk.  These  will still remain, even if doctors are hanged to death. Natural complications, poor prognosis can be attributed to errors by clever lawyering and because of benefit derived by other professions.

     Many careers  are  shining in name of preventable deaths  and medical errors at the cost of medical profession.  The managers, right activists, media   and lawyers  have made their career and wealth out of it. Ask any doctor really, are these issues really preventable after a point.  The  line separating errors or natural complications is really blurred and arbitrary. People who work in life and death situation know it well that  even natural poor prognosis can be labelled and proved as error by retrospective analysis and wisdom of hindsight and more certainly with luxury of time at disposal for lawyers and courts.

     Lawyers  and courts  should also be given those fraction of moments to decide same as is available to doctors. Otherwise it becomes a unbalanced match specially when the amount of money which was paid to doctor to save a life was peanuts as compared to now being paid to punish him.

Illegal Organ (Kidney)transplant trade : Defined as crime, but saves life


A paradox, where a defined crime saves a life and following law and regulation correctly will result in end of life. If some one is asked to choose between a certain death or follow regulations, the choice will be very predictable. A patient , who has an irreversible organ failure, will try to defy death at all cost. People who can afford, can not see their children or loved ones to die, just for the sake of following law and regulations. Genuine concern here will be that If a patient can be cured of disease, why he should be left to die for just regulations. The wish to live is the basic reason, why the procedures, which are termed illegal, will flourish. They will thrive underground or in countries, where laws are lax. Touts, agents and liaison managers are people, who will be beneficiary and mint money by organization of the procedure. The people who can afford, get gift of life, in the bargain.

Organ transplant may be termed illegal, in certain circumstances as defined by Law. But legal or illegal, it gives life . It gives another chance to people to live or have their kith and kin, children , spouses and parent to live another life. Because of gap in demand and supply, when legal means do not help, adoption of illegal means becomes a compulsion. If following law and rules means death, they are unlikely to be complied with.

The gap in demand and supply of organs is the reason behind these activities. Nearly four lakh people suffering from end stage kidney failure need transplant and only 8000 get it. (Times of India). The recipient has two choices for Kidneys. It can be living donor and deceased donor or cadaveric in cases of brain death. 90% come from relatives, rest are cadaveric. The rest has to undergo repeated dialysis to survive.

After the enactment of The Human Organ Transplantation Act of 1994, transplants became less in India. But it was followed by booming market of donors In other countries like Pakistan, Philippines .

But given the circumstances of life and death, the underground market may still be existent.

The ACT also allows unrelated donors to give one of the kidneys if there is sufficient evidence to show that they know the recipient for a long time and are donating organs out of affection. The loophole has potential to be exploited. The affection or the papers for affection can be easily generated in today’s era in lieu of money or other favors in case of high profile cases. Therefore, the mediator’s work becomes easier to generate the papers projecting affection and tutoring and training of donors and recipient.

Alternatively, the procedure can be done in nearby countries. Therefore the role of doctor or surgeon doing a transplant (although the key point) is much smaller than the agent organizing the whole process. Thereby the agents , who can manage and organize the show, are thriving. The wish to defy a certain death is stronger than following the regulation. That will remain so till demand supply gap reduced , better awareness for brain death, medical infrastructure, organ retrieval and transport and supporting facilities are uplifted. Till it happens, even if it is defined as crime, the fruits will outweigh the risks, because of shear margin of money temptations and wish to live.

Administrative and infrastructure deficiencies in health care: fail and blame for doctors


Adverse outcome in patients  can be  because of  many factors. Most of the time it is  serious illness, natural poor prognosis of disease, genuine complications or infections. Sometimes, It can be deficiency of equipment, malfunction, lack of infrastructure or facilities. There can be poor training or lack of  proper human resource and many others. There may be unintentional or human errors  by doctors or staff.  Root cause for most of the problems  can be traced to  administrative and system deficiencies rather than mistake of doctor. But since doctor is universal final link, when a patient dies, who  is visible on the bedside. So by application of an average wisdom, it is the doctor who will be held responsible for any problem or adverse outcome. Administration and people who are responsible for building infrastructure, procurement of  equipment and allocating finances or manpower  are not visible in forefront. It is very common for the doctors  to find themselves in a helpless situation, specially  in presence of  deluge of patients, difficult circumstances, scarce resources  and other  administrative issues.  In cases of adverse outcomes,  administration can   pretend to hide behind the common escape route by punishing doctors and hold them  guilty for the adverse events, as no other cause or person   is visible. By retrospective analysis  and  wisdom of hindsight along with luxury of time , it is a cake walk to give  verdict of one’s choice later, by fault finding analysis.

Non availability of ventilators or  malfunctioning  is not an issue, for which doctors are responsible. Procurement and allocation of funds is an  administrator’s domain.  But it is common that  doctors can be accused for not saving a life. They can be punished, dragged to court and even assaulted physically by crowds.  Dismal percentage of availability  of ventilators in Delhi Hospitals is a tip of the iceberg. This can be even  worse in other parts of the country. Ironically crowds visiting the hospitals only see and blame  the doctor, who is present on bedside and trying to save the patient. Patients hold them responsible for  malaise of the system  and fail to see the presence of  large  administration and industry,   that is behind  the scene. An unfortunate era,  when  the  doctors are blamed on  individual basis for system failure. In present circumstances, Lack of medical wisdom among masses is a cause of  huge discouragement for doctors.

With  High court being proactive in asking about the number of ventilators, the administration can not pretend to hide behind any more, but masses need to know the real truth.

Only 3.4% beds on Delhi Govt Hospitals have ventilator facility against the minimum requirement of 10% in every state run medical center. For  over 10,000 beds,  only 348 ventilators are there. That is an extremely low number.

52 of 400 ventilators in Delhi hospitals non-functional, state tells HC.

After 3-year-old Farhan died in the national Capital for an alleged want of proper ventilator care earlier this month, the state government of Delhi has told the High Court that a substantial number of ventilators in its government hospitals are not working. The state also told the HC on Tuesday that they were aiming to have a web portal up and running within two months, which would provide an online daily update on ventilator and bed availability across Delhi’s government hospitals.

After directions were issued by the HC, the state asked all its hospitals to provide a status update on ventilators and according to the information received from the government hospitals, up to 52 ventilators (13 per cent) of the total of 400 ventilator beds (including 300 ICU and 100 non-ICU) available in the hospitals are non-functional. “Fifty-two ventilators are non-functional and efforts are being made to get them repaired. The procurement of 18 ventilators is under process,” said the reply filed by the state government in the High Court on February 12.

The state government also stated in its reply that as far as maintaining real-time information on the availability of vacant beds in Delhi government hospitals goes, it may not be feasible to implement real-time availability information in the initial phase and the Delhi State Health Mission should be advised to start uploading information on bed availability in all the hospitals once a day in the morning.

The state government also said the State Programme Officer (MIS) of the Delhi State Health Mission has been requested, in

a letter dated January 31, to prepare a web portal for online bed/ ventilator availability and that such a Web portal should be made functional within two months.

The state government through an email sent on February 7 has also requested all the hospitals to complete repair, condemnation and procurement of ventilators at the earliest, according to Nutan Mundeja, Director General of Health Services.

After the matter of alleged unavailability of healthcare to Farhan came to light, the High Court moved a motion against the Union of India and sought a reply.

The number of ventilators as compared to bed strength in government hospitals is meager. “In private hospitals, there is one ventilator bed for every four normal beds. In government set-ups though, even as we have over 10,000 beds, we have only 348 ventilators. That is an extremely low number. Also, these ventilators may not be evenly distributed across the city,” pointed out  stated U Jhamb, Director, Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics at the hospital.

 

Thousands Healthy deaths vs one hospital death. Perception of moral burden of negligence (# SUPREME COURT on pothole deaths)


There is a  infernal  difference in  the kind of  media  projection, burden of negligence and accountability of preventable multiple healthy deaths by civic negligence   as compared to one hospital death occurring due to severe  disease. In fact the burden of   negligence here in healthy deaths is massive and  these deaths are unpardonable. But reality is opposite.  Strangely  “alleged and perceived negligence” ( with no proof and no investigation )  in death of someone already having disease  and death in hospital  during treatment attracts more scrutiny and   stringent  punishment   as compared to a naked “negligence  in deaths of healthy people” in such cases  of civic negligence.  

Massive civic negligence  leading to  entirely preventable loss of lives. These incidents bring fore the misplaced priorities of media and society which too have  contributed to  some extent to these unabated ongoing preventable   deaths  of  thousands of  healthy people.

 

Deaths due to potholes ‘unacceptable’,  Supreme court

The bench,  said the number of deaths from 2013 to 2017 in accidents due to potholes indicated that the authorities concerned were not maintaining the roads. The Supreme Court Thursday expressed concern over 14,926 people being killed in road accidents due to potholes in last five years and termed it “unacceptable”. A bench said the large number of deaths caused due to potholes across the country was “probably more than those killed on border or by the terrorists”. Terming the situation as frightening, the top court had asked the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety to look into the matter. The bench had also said that people who have lost their lives as a result of accidents due to potholes should be entitled to compensation. 

 

Multiple  Deaths  in healthy people by civic negligence :

Large numbers of death and morbidity happen amongst absolutely healthy population due to preventable causes like open manholes, drains, live electric wires, water contamination, dengue, malaria, recurring floods  etc. These deaths  of people are in thousands, and are almost entirely of healthy people, who otherwise were not at risk of death. In fact the burden of   negligence here is massive and  these deaths are unpardonable

 

       Single  Death in Hospital due to disease:

The media has always, instead, focused on the stray  and occasional incidents of perceived alleged negligence  in hospital deaths which could have occurred due to critical medical condition of patient. However an impression is created as if the doctors have killed a healthy person. It is assumed without any investigation that it was doctor’s fault.  Media has been responsible for creating a misunderstanding about the whole process of treatment and creating  something sensational out of nothing.

 

Point to ponder-Misplaced priorities:

Who is to be  blamed for  the deaths of healthy people which occur because of civic negligence? Here relatives may be helpless and  the vital questions  may go unanswered or taken as a routine.  There are no punching bags like doctor  for revenge. But on the contrary, any stray incident of death of an already ill patient is blown out of proportion by media forgetting the fact that thousands of patients are saved everyday by  doctors. But media instead chose to defame medical profession by igniting the emotions of people by sensationalizing death of diseased and ill,  who probably were already at risk of death and did not give due importance to highlighting prevention of healthy  and absolutely 100% preventable deaths.

Right issues raised at right time will save thousands of healthy preventable deaths. Multiple  healthy deaths should carry more burden of negligence than  one death due to disease.

      

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