Slanderer! (My 2cents on the article in TheStar today!)

Today, I was planning to write an update on my Medical Marvel Book-Hunt trip yesterday evening. But due to more pressing issues, will put it off for the time being. Promise to up it by this weekend, okay? 🙂

***

Thanks to a brethren who shared this news on MPCN (Malaysian Primary Care network) earlier today, I have been seething for the past few hours. It is very heartwarming that our President of MPCN/MPCAM (Medical Practitioner Coalition Association of Malaysia) acted very swiftly in shooting out a nice email to concerned parties, requesting for a meeting to clear the air. Kudos.

This is the article from The Star  that made my blood boil on an otherwise TGIF morning:
http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Community/2013/07/26/Beware-of-unethical-doctors.aspx

First thought: HOW DARE SHE? :@

 

Medicine, as well as nursing, & teaching (to name some) is renowned as one of the oldest and noblest professions in the word. I am not saying that doctors are invincible, or not flawed…we too are humans, who are often expected to play God by the public. *sigh* We have been, are, and always will be the humble servants of the Almighty God!

 

When you see a big whiteboard with a small black dot on it…what do you notice first?
“Hey! That’s a black dot!” – although the dot might be as tiny as an ant, while the board is as large as our traditional blackboards.
My whole point is, we human beings have learned to program ourselves to focus on the negatives. And then we wonder why do so many bad-things keep befalling us?
Some of us spend a good part of our life learning to be grateful and focus on the larger portion – the WHITE colour that fills up the board!

***

I stopped reading newspapers regularly the day I left home, and even lost touch with the e-newspaper version since the day I started working. Used to feel a little bad for being out of touch with current happenings – but being a FaceBook addict, that problem was solved 😀 I am in tune with latest happenings, even faster than any newspapers can come up with them even, at times.

Though with the latest 505 incident/fiasco, I have learned to be suspicious of every news, as I have begun to distrust a nation’s media that operates subservient to the ruling government. And the online media which is either pro-government, or pro-opposition. WHERE DO WE GO FOR TRUTH???
Not gonna talk any more about into a politics! Sorry.

***

Aptly published under “DIFFERENT SPIN BY SHEILA STANLEY”. Indeed a Spin Doctor!

I can’t wonder what instigated her out of the blue to slander us (the medical professionals in this manner!?!). I agree that she did mention SOME, BUT….did she verify any of the stories and the reason for the course of action taken? Did she consult the doctors involved, or those who gave second opinion?

NO! Obviously, she has quoted patient’s/parents’ views only….that is pretty obvious from the way the stories are phrased.
I have contributed articles to, and be interviewed by a reporter of this very same newspaper for articles previously. So, I know how these things work. E-mails, telephone conversations, anything!! And then the author submits the compilation of stories…and after editing things might mean a little differently from the originally intended piece, at times.
So, I deem both the author & the newspaper editor responsible for this!

Did they conduct an official survey? Are there statistics to back up the claim of: “Currently, however, regard for the medical profession has dropped a little.”

***

I am NOT defending for the sake of defending, but I am being logical and analytical here.

Story # 1: 

a recent story told to me by a 33-year-old woman, pregnant with her first child, who went to a private maternity centre to give birth instead of a government hospital.

Her periodic check-ups went along fine until she was about seven months pregnant.

At that point in time, she was informed by her doctors that her blood tests indicated there was something wrong with the child she was carrying and there was a strong possibility that the child had Down Syndrome.

She was informed that she had to go for a number of different tests – all of which would obviously cost a lot of money.

Although she wasn’t that concerned about the cost, she became very afraid for the future of her unborn child.

So, after speaking to her family members, she decided to go to a public hospital to get a second opinion.

At the public hospital, they conducted a number of tests on her.

These were all free under the Malaysian public health system. After results were obtained, she was informed that the baby seemed perfectly fine and she had nothing to worry about.

She then decided to deliver her baby in the public hospital. When her child was born, it was perfect, and there was nothing wrong. Other stories such as this exist, although probably not as horrifying.

Do the parents/author WANT the child to have been born with Down’s Syndrome? And that would have made them happy with the Private Doctor? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a super consultant to see that:

  1. The government hospital PERFORMED the same test as suggested by the Private Hospital! Nobody would have done unnecessary tests without valid suspicion,  which would obviously cost a lot of money (to quote dear Ms/Mrs Sheila Stanley). Especially at government set-p with limited funding, no way they would have proceeded with the Expensive Investigations merely to pacify the patients’ anxiety, if there were no indications!
    As such, how could she blame the private O&G as “unethical doctors who have taken advantage of our trust in them and used it to make more money through unnecessary procedures”
    Baffling…no?
  2. So, which is the horrifying part? The fact that the child was actually born perfectly healthy?!??

***

Story # 2: 

eight-year-old boy who suffered from fever, cough and was vomiting for a day.

He did not have any abdominal pains. His father took him to see a general practitioner who then told him to take his son to a particular surgeon at a private medical centre.

At the centre, the surgeon, when examining, pressed down so hard on the boy’s abdomen that it caused him pain.

The surgeon then insisted that the boy had a perforated appendix and insisted that he undergo an operation that very night.

However, about an hour before the surgery, the father, feeling uneasy, decided to get a second opinion. He asked for his son to be discharged and took him to another doctor.

This doctor found that the son did not have a perforated appendix and instead treated him for an upper respiratory tract infection, something common among children of that age

I have served as a Paediatrics MO for 20 months, not so very long ago. Based on that, I belief I can contribute my 2 cents here!

  1. Fever & Vomiting alone can be the presentation of an acute appendicitis in a child. YES! Without any abdominal pain…it is pretty common, and might be missed out even, leading to risk of perforation.
    Personally, I have had an experience of having an admitted child treated for acute tonsillitis. But fever was persistent and vomiting non-stop. As the blood investigation was suggestive of super duper high level of bacterial load, and my specialist agreed with our findings of tender abdomen, we referred the patient to the Surgical team. As the pain didn’t resolve after observation, they went in for surgery, and hey Presto! It was an “acute appendicitis, on the verge of perforating”. Had we missed examining the abdomen when the child was not so restless, we might have missed it!
  2. Not many children can describe their symptoms well. So, YES! A holistic examination of any Paediatrics patient will involve abdominal examination.
  3. The first general practitioner who attended to the child referred him – that means some symptom MUST HAVE BEEN picked up by the frontline doctor himself.
  4. ” the surgeon, when examining, pressed down so hard on the boy’s abdomen that it caused him pain.” – Dear Ms/Mrs Sheila Stanley, “SO HARD” –  by whose standards? If someone has tenderness (for the uninitiated, Pain is what the patient complains of, Tenderness is what is elicited by an examining doctor). So, I agree….this child might not have had Abdominal Pain, but upon examination there was tenderness!
    There are many a differential diagnosis for abdominal pain in children, and we clinch the final diagnosis from the SITE of the tenderness, and investigation results, among others! Some of those will resolve with time…others proceed, and perforate! So it isn’t an abnormal practice to admit, and observe. Unless rigidity is present, a perforation is suspected and scheduled for urgent surgery – it is not in my capacity to comment any further as we do not know what actually occured, and what were the findings.
    If I go any further about this, I could start a ppt. on this topic and lecture medical students/conduct a houseman teaching!

***

Is the author trying to say that IF a private medical practitioner orders an investigation and the outcome if negative, they are being unscrupulous & greedy! But, if the same is done in a government setting, they are being holistic and careful doctors???

What if a Private Medical Practitioner wants to cut cost, and omits some investigations? Then, the blame would still be on us?! “That doctor failed to diagnose my problem” – duh! This kind of mentality will only cause more doctors to practice preventive medicine!

From my short experience of practicing as a doctor, I notice this much. If it is free, patient would be more than willing for it. If they have to pay (eg: a Bottle of Multivitamin which costs at the most RM20, usually cheaper for their kids) they would rather forego it…but if it can be covered by their panel/insurance, ‘semua pun jalan – doktor baik!’ (everything is well – what a good doctor!) 

***

Excuse me! Who is this author to ASSUME & question our Hippocratic Oath! :@

As far as I know, doctors take the age-old Hippocratic Oath when they begin practising medicine.

Considered a rite of passage, the oath hinges on the duty of the doctor to practise medicine in an ethical manner, in the best interest of his or her patient.

When faced with stories like these, one can’t help but wonder what has happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

***

DEAR MEMBERS of the GENERAL PUBLIC,

Please do not fall prey to slanderers like this unscrupulous writer! Shame on her for failing to consult/contact the doctors involved for clarification.
Any patient has the right for a second opinion! So by all means, feel free to consult another doctor if you are not satisfied with the first. And if you feel the first doctor has made a mistake, kindly contact the hospital/clinic/Malaysian Medical Council and lodge your complaint.
A thorough investigation will be carried out on all involved parties by doctors who are independent and unrelated to the affected organizations – be it under government, or private institutions. The final report after analyzing all case notes and testimony from people involved alone should be trusted upon.
There have been many a case where out of court settlement has been made, by the involved parties’ pay cut to payback for the sum compensated to parties with grouches. So, yes…we do uphold our ‘brother & sister-hood’ in this profession, but we will not hesitate to take action if necessary, upon the black-sheep(s), if detected too!
And please don’t be fooled into thinking that we medical professionals are a bunch of Money-Sucking-Vampires who will just cheat the public to fill up our own pocket. That kind of blood money won’t last long…and most of us do uphold our ETHICS, probably not all…but MAJORITY, I know that we still do, be it Government or Private Doctors!

There are already alot of unscrupulous so-called alternative medical practitioner who claim they can CURE what can’t be by modern medicine. A lot of sad cases where patients have succumbed to these practices, and either refuse, or come to us toooooo late to be saved!
With irresponsible reporters and published articles like these in the mass media, IMAGINE what will happen to the FAITH of Public in Doctors? Government hospital…long waiting hours; Private doctors…bad experience – taboo! So…bomoh, sinseh, ete etc…“Here We Come!”
GOD BLESS!

***

The author’s final words were:

Do you have any stories to share on bad encounters with private medical practitioners?

If you do, share them with me, and in my next column, I will share your stories.

My final words are:

“THE STAR & Ms/Mrs. Sheila Stanley! I hope God makes you realize your mistake SOON. If not by your own accord, with all the complaints you have received & will be…following this article.
You owe the whole medical profession, Especially the private medical practitioners A BIG PUBLIC APOLOGY ASAP. “

***

By the way, why haven’t I come across any authors/publishers who address the issue of doctors being the target of goons recently!?? I swear I would have applied for a license to be armed with a legal-gun for my self-protection & attend shooting classes, if not for the fact that I am awaiting my Australian Visa – don’t think they will be impressed :p

P.S:

A 12th-century Byzantine manuscript of the Oath.A Modern Version of the Hippocratic Oath

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

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One Response to Slanderer! (My 2cents on the article in TheStar today!)

  1. Pingback: MMA’s Response to the Star – yet to be Published. | Mad Med Journey

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