From ward boys and security guards to assistants and doctors, almost everyone bosses you around
Like other institutions (education, bureaucracy, and the like), our healthcare system appears to be suffering from some chronic disease from past decade or so. An assortment of corruption, nepotism, carelessness, and arrogance appear to be the noticeable symptoms.
A sizeable section of doctors, nurses, ward boys, assistants, etc. seem to be the cancerous cells that have invaded some of the vital tissues of our hospital system overshadowing the contributions of those who take their job seriously and honestly.
They have brazenly turned it into a nightmare for the common people. I intend to draw the attention particularly to the ordeals endured by attendants.
The problems that you face emanate both from the above and the below until you are squeezed under the pyramid. Let us begin with something very crucial: the consent form. You may catch a glimpse of it when you are a guardian or an attendant of someone who is to be operated upon.
If the patient is not capable of consenting at that time, as in the case of the application of anaesthesia, you need to give what is called a ‘proxy consent.’
The ethico-legal standards require it to be a ‘prior informed consent’ whereby all the necessary details in order to weigh the risks or potential benefits arising out of the treatment are to be disclosed.
It signifies a constitutional right of the patient, not a clean shit to the operating medical practitioner in case a mishap occurs due to his/her negligence or incompetence.
However, how many times has this actually worked against the blunders of incompetent and negligent doctors?
Most of the doctors will seldom tell you the exact problem of the patient―not until an irrevocable damage is done―because of your ‘illiteracy’ as far as medical sciences are concerned. There is always a professional chattering and murmuring associated.
Sure, not everyone is conversant with medical sciences or its phraseology nor with the multitude of diseases. But in this age of booming literacy and technology, it is not very difficult to acquaint yourself at least with the basics of the problem you are dealing with.
Not disclosing everything to the patient may be morally justified, but one fails to comprehend how withholding the crucial information from his/her family is.
On another level, the usual arrogance of security guards is truly remarkable. Some will literally, as the quote goes, “drag you down to their level and then beat you with their experience.”
Their enormously impolite and almost abusive behaviour will surely tempt you to reciprocate, no matter how courteous and calm you generally are. In their minds, they might be rolling up their sleeves even. The desperate you might have provoked them.
Maintaining discipline in a hospital is indispensable. But yes, there is a humongous difference between being strict and being boorish. That is a bit too much.
The inadequacy of bed and board arrangements in and outside the hospitals is a problem that will force you to spend night in the corridors, on the floor.
In the morning, all of you will be rounded up like cattle and pushed out of the hospital building. You may notice a particular ogling if you are a villager, a filthy gryoos or Gujjar.
There is a silver lining though: a dozen apples from your supposed orchard, half a kilo of sattu, a bit of luck, and you could have them in your pocket.
Regarding the food in canteens, the least said the better. If you don’t have an extraordinary digestive system, you could well be lying on a bed in the same hospital after a week or so!
There is much more to the story. From ward boys and security guards to assistants and doctors, almost everyone bosses you around.
Being a caregiver, you get a scolding from everyone for almost everything. Even though you might be feeling like a wrung-out sponge, your physical, mental, and emotional exertion barely touches them. Experience, perhaps.
While dealing with a patient of critical health, the doctors are under a tremendous stress. Agreed. But isn’t it that the patient’s family would be in an equally, if not more, anxious state of mind?
Attendants are meant to provide social, psychological, emotional, and physical support to the patients. When one is made to go through such an additional trauma, how is it possible to provide the best support to a patient?
If you are with an expecting mother, oh boy, there is an army waiting for you! The ward boys and delivery nurse-midwives have the right to ask for bakhshish (gratuity) although the work they do there is already paid for.
As a customary acknowledgement for their efforts and kindness you may really want to gift them something; their demand for money, however, clearly gives it the semblance of extortion.
And if you dare to resist this subtle but “accepted” form of corruption, you get reviled for being a cheapskate and an ungrateful person.
Finally, in our society, is it a secret that most doctors prescribe spurious drugs for earning commission from the spurious drug companies?
Are we really unaware of the government doctors or our foreign-returned practitioners basking in huge amounts of money, extracted from patients in their private clinics? The private clinic system is now an industry in itself ensuring the thriving of an upper-middle class at the cost of the subaltern.
The demands comprise almost extortionate consultation fees, charges accrued from hiring the rooms in nursing homes, charges levied on tests and procedures, equipment fee, and other overcharged “services”.
In the absence of any proper directives from the government or, if indeed extant, the lack of any decisive actions taken thereon, the medical practitioners seem more like crony capitalists than holy healers.
From the past few weeks the government seems to have taken some legal actions against “doctors” with false degrees and clinics with illegal credentials. Commendable acts indeed.
While the government is at it, it is highly desirable to raise the curtain further and lay bare the insidious things going on in our hospitals. It is fitting that something more is done to upend the status quo, such as an introduction of reforms in the hospital system, laying out of unambiguous rules, putting in place a proper licensing system, and bringing the requisite awareness to preserve the sanctity of hospitals.
Author is pursuing doctorate in the Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University