Since days innumerable as medical profession evolved, man stood at the brink between life and death and gradually found ways and means to combat the frailty of human existence by conquering the fear, apprehension and suffering rendered by ailments. The noble profession of medicines, helmed by the practitioners who had the power to heal, was hailed akin to divinity and the practitioners or ‘doctors’, as they are known in common parlance, were treated, equivalent to Gods.
On a much more realistic level, Doctors help us make the right medical decision with absolute confidence and full faith. Doctors provide individuals with the expertise and knowledge they need tomake informed health decisions. Facing a medical challenge without getting the right diagnosisor effective treatment can be a harrowing experience.Doctors give diagnosis, order treatments and check on the progress of patients.
In legal jargon, doctors have an ‘obligation of means’ towards their patient, not an ‘obligation of result’, which roughly translated means they must prescribe the right medication on correct diagnosis of the ailment, based on up to date scientific information, acquaint the patient with possible side effects / risks, if any and suggest alternatives to proposed treatment or surgical procedure and provide adequate follow-up within a reasonable period of time.
They must also inform the patients or their relatives about the chances of success and risk of failure of the suggested treatment, keeping in consideration the patient’s condition. The doctor must also take into account all foreseeable risks that could have detrimental consequence on the patient’s condition so that the patient and his family can then make an informed and free decision whether to pursue the treatment or look for alternatives.The doctor-patient confidentiality clause is another important principle guiding the medical fraternity.
The doctors deliver great care under great stress, sometimesat direct risk to their lives. Incidents of doctors contracting T.B, dengue and other infectious diseases is very high. Though W.H.O recommends protective gears and mechanisms, but sadly, in many parts of developing countries, the infrastructure is not in place, putting doctors’ lives at stake.
On account of the malpractices indulged in by few doctors, the entire medical profession has come under scanner. Incidents of public wreathing havoc on doctors and hospitals, at the deathof their loved one has become a regular feature, further endangering the life and freedom required to deliver the noble service with full authority. It is tough for the medics to diagnose and treat someone when you cannot put hands on them without fear of violation of personal space. An increasing number of practitioners are feeling unappreciated, abused, threatened.The media too joins in the fray exposing the mendacity, misdemeanours and mistakes made by doctors leading to a dip in the trust imposed by the public on them.
Yet, the fact remains that second only to God, in the darkest hour of human condition, doctors are the only light at the end of the tunnel. One smiling assurance from them that things will be all right is enough to dispel all clouds. Interms of profession, the highest respect is reserved for the medics. The entire balance hinges on mutual trust and ethics.