• Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 05:30
"Understand one thing - ligating pulsating blood vessels is not a service. Restarting a heart is not a service.    Suturing meticulously with threads thinner than the hair on your eyebrow is not a service. Identifying the extent of a tumour in the brain right down to the last millimeter while operating to remove it is not a service. It is an art. It is a specialized skill. It is a test of your endurance because at the end of the 25th hour of straight duty, you better save that 20th patient on your operation table or else everything you have done before this does not matter. Above all else, it is a sacrifice."   When Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan, an anesthesiologist from Kannur in Kerala, recently wrote a blog about the disillusionment that doctors face today in the healthcare sector, he hardly expected it to go viral.   Titled "Why I will never allow my child to become a doctor in India", the blog seems to have given voice to what several medical professionals in the world feel or have to deal with today.   "The response to my blog has been overwhelming. The medical community has been extremely supportive," the 34-year-old doctor tells The News Minute, adding that it took him almost two weeks to write the blog.   From common fears to insecurities, the piece asks pertinent questions that doctors have today. "I wish it were JUST about losing your family life, working twice the allotted hours and taking home the pitiably disproportionate salary though. But sadly, it isn't even that anymore. Now, it is about getting home in one piece. From stopping patients from dying, the medical field is now being forced to worry about not being killed by the patients bystanders." Doctors are overworked, which affects them on several levels, including their personal lives as well as mental and physical health. “You would never allow a taxi driver to drive you for 24 hours continuously but asking surgeons to do that every third day is fair game in India, apparently,” Roshan writes.     Then, they are paid peanuts in the name of salary.   “If India considers it a crime for doctors to earn money while closing their eyes when judges, lawyers and uneducated politicians magically accumulate crores, is it not the folly of the person aspiring to be a doctor? How dare he dream of providing for his family?” he asks.   As long as doctors heal people and save lives, they are revered. However, the same crowd is also capable of inflicting violence if something were to go wrong with the patient, even if the doctor may not be responsible for it.    According to a report a May 2015 report by The Indian Medical Association, over 75% of the doctors in India have faced some form of violence at the patient's hands in India.   “Handing down verdicts of imprisonment to 3 doctors for the loss of vision of 66 patients following an eye surgery camp, the judicial system showed an amazing lack of comprehension about what was going on. It does not need a rocket scientist to realize that a single trained doctor cannot make the same mistake 66 times in 66 different eyes on the same day. The obvious answer to such incidence of mass endophthalmitis is in the use of unsterile solutions used - the unsterile part being a fault of the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the solution,” he writes.   And all this, and more, in the name of “selfless” social service?   "The essence of being a doctor - to do the best we can to heal - is being taken away from us because now we need to be on the defensive."   Roshan is quick to add that this does not hold true for the entire profession and that there are indeed the proverbial bad apples in the basket.   "Cases of medical negligence need to be probed in an individual basis and should be evaluated by someone in the medical field. Because," he says, "a judge can be swayed by public emotion."   Contrary to what the title suggests, Roshan does not have any children yet. But he feels that there must be something “wrong” in the system if the present generation of medical practitioners does not want their children to follow in their steps.   “If so many doctors are sharing it and messaging their support, then it is really is time to start taking their opinions into consideration. You need to think long term here - if you don't make a change now, two generations from now, that doctor: patient ratio will further deteriorate beyond repair,” he says.   Roshan feels that though it might be sometime before a common solution to the issue is brought to force, his blog has at least given way for a discussion on the issue.   As a message to his future child, he writes in his blog, “I will let you have every choice in life and I will be there to support you and guide you along the way.  You can be a wildlife photographer trekking through the Amazons or dance the poles at Las Vegas. But I will never allow you to become a doctor in India. Because I did not raise my child for two decades just to watch her lose her sense of right and wrong, of humanity or worse, watch her die. And I don't mean just physically.”