Trust is the foundation of a doctor-patient relationship

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Doctors are here for the larger good of the people and the need of the hour is to restore people’s faith in them

New Delhi, 17 January 2018: A recent survey has indicated that about 92% people do not trust the healthcare system in India. Hospitals appear to be the most distrusted followed by doctors, clinics, diagnostic labs, and others.

The key reasons given for the erosion of trust are a series of failure in the healthcare system, particularly the negligence by hospitals in the recent past. Lack of transparency also came out as the single biggest impediment to the healthcare system in India.

Delivering affordable health care to India’s billion plus people presents enormous challenges and opportunities for the medical fraternity. Political ideologies play a distinctive role in determining the health policies of our country. India made phenomenal economic gains in the last three decades, but has failed to improve the health status of its population on similar terms. This study then paints a very one-sided picture!

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “We are doctors, a fraternity that has been accorded the status of next to God since Vedic times. Medical profession is regarded as a noble profession and no other profession has been given a similar high status. ‘Doctors treat, but God heals’, is a well-known saying. The practice of medicine is becoming increasingly complex and time consuming. We are in pain. The profession is facing its worst period. Justice is being denied to doctors even within the framework of the constitution of India. Violence against doctors is increasing with alarming frequency all over the country; hospitals and medical establishments are ransacked. The risk of physical assault has created an atmosphere of fear among doctors. Doctors are being criminally prosecuted, suffer the indignity and trauma of an unlawful arrest even without being convicted of the negligence by a court of law. Is there a report to highlight the plight of doctors and the percentage of those who feel doctors are being misjudged? It is time to introspect!”

The doctor-patient trust in the country, which was already experiencing a downward spiral, has deteriorated further. Doctors do not have the intent to be the cause for public unrest or loss of public trust. People must also understand that to err is human and one incident does not mean that there will be more such cases in future too.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also Vice President, Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania, said, “Out of the four purposes of life: dharma, artha, kama and moksha, dharma is the most important. The literal meaning of dharma is to hold. God is the force with 100% dharma in his life. Dharma of a doctor is to treat and save the life of a person at any cost. It is time that the community supports us as we support them. We speak the loudest when we speak with one voice.”

“The medical profession is here to not benefit doctors, who have chosen this difficult route after years of study to give eternal happiness to families. Doctors forget all the hardships they go through when they see smiles come back on the faces of family members when their near and dear ones are healthy again. Our commitment leads us to provide service even when we are indisposed. It will be valid here to say that the medical profession is redundant without patients. Trust is the very foundation of a doctor-patient relationship and must be restored urgently.”

IMA Alcohol policy for all

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Doctors are “Brand Ambassadors of Health”, and as part of our professional responsibilities, we not only take care of the health needs of our patients, but also that of the community by advocacy of various public health issues. We prescribe a healthy lifestyle to our patients and emphasize upon them the need to adopt healthy habits and lifestyle.

‘Practice What You Preach’ is an age-old saying. Doctors have a responsibility to put into practice themselves what they teach their patients about healthy lifestyle. It is also important that we maintain our dignity before the patients, a dictum also laid down in the MCI Code of ethics regulations, which says that “A physician shall uphold the dignity and honour of his profession (1.1.1)”.

A patient should be able to trust his doctor and have confidence in him. Any public display of “undignified” behavior erodes the trust in the doctor and gives a bad name to the profession.

IMA has formulated an alcohol policy for all its members to follow.

• Both 1st July and 5th September are dry days and no alcohol should be served in any function as a mark of respect.
• No social alcohol in company of non doctors.
• 6 grams (18 ml of whisky) is the social and safe dose of alcohol.
• No alcohol should be served in IMA Meets.
• If served, follow 6 g limit for relaxation, if can’t then less than 10 gram per serving, no second serving in less than one hour and no more than two servings in one day, 50% for women.
• IMA host should ensure that guests do not drive back, if they are served alcohol.
• One standard peg = 10 g (1 ml alcohol = 0.8 g) = 30 ml of 80 proof whisky with 40% alcohol
• 12 g = 360 mL beer, 150 mL wine, or 45 mL of 80 proof distilled spirits
• Liver can metabolize 10 gm of alcohol in one hour (50% in women)

Dr KK Aggarwal
National President IMA & HCFI

“Koi Dekh to Nahi Raha”: Doctors are brand ambassadors of health

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Doctors in India have been equated to God since ancient times. This has continued even today even after modern medicine has taken over. No other profession perhaps enjoys the same exalted status as that of the medical doctors.

A common man usually perceives God as a force for whom nothing is impossible, as the one who is the final decision maker, whose decisions cannot be challenged, who can provide instant relief and who overcomes miseries. He can also answer the unknown as He is omniscient i.e. all-knowing.

A doctor is a healer and helps the patient overcomes his problems, and at times, saves the life of a patient. Most of us have faith in God and trust that He will do right by us. Similarly, during illness or during any acute emergency, patients and/or their families repose the same faith and trust in their doctor.

Doctors are different, they are role models and icons. They are expected to act in a manner befitting their position in the society. Regulation 1.1.1 of the MCI Code of Ethics also requires a physician to “uphold the dignity and honour of his profession”.

Doctors look after the health of not only their patients, but also that of the community and are therefore regarded as “Brand Ambassadors of Health”.

This public role puts a responsibility on all of us to practice what we teach our patients about healthy habits and lifestyle.

And also maintain our dignity and integrity before the patients. For example, if they see you drinking even if it is social or indulging in any other ‘questionable’ personal action, this would make them suspicious of your integrity or regard it as hypocrisy. This moral code of ethics therefore must be respected at all times.

Despite a public role, doctors deserve a personal time, which should be off-limits for patients. The two should not mix.

Therefore whenever you are in your private life see “ Koi dekh to nahi rha”

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