Q Kindly share the case of a two-day-old baby whose post went viral.
After performing an extremely complex and challenging surgery for almost 10 hours on a two-day-old baby, the parents of the infant told me, “Thank you doctor. You must be tired. We know you must have given your best. Do you have a duty-off tomorrow? Please take an off because you deserve it.” The parents expressed compassion and respect even when the baby was critical, said the post. The parents’ reaction was totally unexpected.
Q How many cases of complex congenital heart defect come to you in a month in India? Are the numbers more in case of India?
We do get many complex congenital heart defect patients here, but definitely, the numbers are high in India. In Australia, the public (government) hospitals run the show. The infrastructure there is better than most private hospitals in India. There are 40 to 45 cases a month whereas in India the numbers in a government hospital in Mumbai would easily be 60 to 75 per month. The problem in India is fewer facilities provided in government hospitals both to patients as well as doctors. Patients have to wait for months together to get the surgery done. Sometimes they succumb to their ailments during the waiting period. For doctors there are no fixed working hours, no good salary, and above all no security and constant threats of getting beaten up.
Q Do you think the doctor-patient bond in other countries is stronger because people are more educated and hence it is easier for the doctors to explain to them the condition of the patient?
Definitely, education is one of the differences. People are more educated there so they understand better. But let me tell you when I was working in Sir HN Reliance Hospital in Girgaon, Mumbai for the last 3 years, I have counselled patients’ relatives who were mostly educated. In India, doctors are getting beaten up because they are soft targets and people know that law and order will not harm them much. India needs to set one good example, like heavy punishment for those assaulting the doctors and then see how people get disciplined.
Q Do you think that the doctors are treated better outside India as the doctor-patient relationship in many countries is better?
In India, however, due to work overload, a doctor is ideally not able to give more time to each patient hence leading to communication issues between relatives and doctors, which then translate into mishaps.
Doctors are definitely treated better outside India because of those reasons. But yes, as the patient load is so much, the doctors are not able to spend more time with each patient as they do here.
We as Indian doctors are learning about this and are slowly improving. But the government hospital healthcare system in India needs transformation.