About a week ago, I received, on my WhatsApp, a story about a certain doctor who deals with his patients as though they do not matter. This doctor known as Dr. Musau is said to have completely disregarded a patient in critical condition with absolutely no care that the patient could lose her life or that her family was already depleting the little resources that they had. There was no communication from the doctor when the appointed time passed and after asking around, this family learnt that, because of his senior position, there is absolutely nothing that could happen to Dr. Musau even if they reported him to the board of medical practitioners.
You have probably experienced such cases with doctors – some of them feeling too big, others acting with negligence and costing people their lives and sometimes just having a hell of a foul attitude when dealing with patients. I am generally a very healthy person and the only time I had to go to a hospital in my adulthood was when I had chickenpox. I was 21 and all the strange things on my face were confusing. But everyone I met, including a medic in the family told me that what I had were signs of chickenpox.
I went to hospital and since I had never been to hospital before (as an adult where I had to speak for myself), I didn’t know how else to state my case except;
‘… I think I have chickenpox…’
Now imagine my shock when the doctor reacted with anger and warned me very sternly about thinking that I was more intelligent than him – the trained medical personnel. At that point, I was too worried about the possibility of a needle to even care about what that man was saying.
A semester after this incident, I went into a medical sociology class taught by a distinguished academic who lives in both worlds – the social sciences world and the life sciences world. We tackled a topic called, “the problem with the medical profession” and after the initial shock that the profession of professions also happens to have problems, all the things I had read and heard previously about hospitals and doctors – misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, childbirth injuries, medication errors, over medication, surgery errors and anesthesia errors which all occur because of negligence and oftentimes cost people their lives started to make sense.
It took me a whole semester of classes, presentations, research, group-work and assignments to grasp this whole story so it might be difficult if I try to put everything in a 600 word article but in a nutshell, the medical professionals are somehow geared to look at other people as mere mortals in a bad way. You walk into the doctor’s office and that automatically shifts the worth of your life into their hands. Now, for those doctors who lack ‘proper home training’, their egos automatically start to run high and you see them talking down to you. If you asked me, this ego story starts the moment K.C.S.E results come out and ‘the cream of the performers’ battle out to get spaces in the limited medical schools.Once they get there, they might then start to feel as if the world owes them ego food.
If a doctor fails to provide proper medical care in a way that a responsible medical professional would, it is known as medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is what Dr. Musau and many other doctors who ignore the tenets of the noble profession that is medicine while attending to their patients do.
And it is against such doctors that we all need to rise and speak up against. If such doctors are so powerful that their board can do nothing against cases brought forth against them, then I think that we the people, the people who will one day fall victim to the over-bloated egos of such medical personnel should speak up. Power is with the people!
As we prepare for the march, here are some of the ways to become an empowered patient:
- Trisha Torrey, an American advocate for patient empowerment warns that people seeking healthcare services should be alert to the fact that times have changed and the utmost kindness and nobility with which doctors handled their work is long gone. As such, no one can afford to remain naïve of their rights as a patient. Patients need to take a lot more responsibility for their healthcare than in the times past.
Trisha writes that everyone needs to know that they understand their body better than anyone else and as such, refer to all the resources at their disposal and use that information to make decisions about their personalized treatment.
- Another thing is: listen to your gut. If you are going to have to meet a doctor and talk about intimate things about yourself, follow your gut and go where you feel safe. Do not ever forget that we have more than one doctor in this world.You have a right to end an engagement with a doctor.
- Remember to always seek that second opinion. Especially for any major medical diagnosis. The avarice of money in this country is terrifying but at least getting three different diagnoses is better than working with one from an egotistical doctor – one you are not sure whether he was seeing double or their big ego while analyzing your results. Remember Janet Ikua’s story? ? Doctors gave her the deep vein thrombosis diagnosis when it was cancer all along. Luckily, she was cured of the disease. This takes us back to point one —you understand your body better than anyone else and when your gut says something is wrong, follow through.
Doctors should not have a god complex and it is unfortunate that many doctors here have elevated themselves to that level, especially the specialists. We need to have a stronger Medical board which cares more about the patients then about the doctors, sadly that is not the fact. In the world we live in remember your health is your wealth. Do not allow doctors to play around with your health, you are paying for a service, sometimes through the nose and sometimes after going into financial crisis just to get your patient treated. You need to know your rights as a patient and raise the alarm when doctors don’t give you the services you require. It is not a favour they are doing you, you will pay for it both now (in monetary terms) and in the future if they do the wrong thing.