Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I always believe as doctors we should treat our patients as if they are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters etc. When we do that, then we know we are not mistreating people based on their gender, race, wealth or position. In this country, many people only see status and treat people only based on that. Some people bend their backs to please some Datuk, Tan Sri or Tun BUT would not pay attention to the normal people on the street. Isn't that so sad?

This shouldn't happen in the health service, especially in government hospitals. Even if a person is a VIP he should get the same service as any other person. They should wait in line for their turn and not demand special attention just because of who they are. Mind you, for the 10 years I have been in government service I have met a lot of crappy so-called VIPs BUT I have met also so many Datuks, Datins and Tan Sris who are genuinely nice people and never demand anything special. They are ever so grateful even to us lowly house-officers. Demanding people should go to private doctors and not harp on how sub-standard the service when they only pay RM5 to see a specialist.

Anyway, sometime the fault lies at the service providers themselves. People are so awed at titles that they forget their duties and responsibilities. They go all out to please the VIPs. I was a medical officer in HKL when I was called to review an 'end-stage renal failure' patient who had infection of his great toe. The elderly gentleman was such a nice fella, I spoke to him with respect and addressed him as uncle. However, the ward sister was so distressed with this. She kept mentioning to me that this 'Uncle' was in fact a Datuk and should be addressed as such. She was not really bothered about the treatment. Well, being me, I told her to *&^% off.

After that I had a good relation with this uncle. I took care of him till his wounds were better and he was able to go home. About a year after that, his wife came around the clinic to look for me. The old man had passed away and she wanted me to know. Apparently, he used to tell his wife how well I treated him and how he thinks of me like a daughter. When I heard this I was so elated. That is the best compliment a person has ever given me.

Why am I rambling on about this? Well, it is because I am annoyed. I am annoyed because my friend's father-in-law was admitted to the hospital and in my personal view he was not given the best treatment. Mind you, my friend is also a specialist (in the same hospital and ward) and to avoid conflict of interest he decided to stay out of the way of the other doctors. However this resulted in sub-standard care given to this gentleman (would not elaborate further on this, but trust me it is). Gosh, if this is the way the doctors treat one of their own I wonder how they treat the Apak, pakcik, makcik, ah soh out there.

Or perhaps this is exactly how they treat their own family?

p.s. the government's doctor factory is now busy churning out doctors to meet their 1 doctor per 4000 people quota. I wonder what quality of doctors would that be. We need more people with compassion but lately many of the young doctor lack such quality. Alas, there is no entrance exams to gauge compassion.


Asri said...

So true.

It always distresses me too whenever I see how some govt servants (not necessarily in the health service) treat older, unimportant customers.

Giving substandard service is bad enough when it is applied equally, but reserving the best smiles and faces for some so-called datuk or relatives of 'important people' just peeves me no end.

As it is, I always try to speak out and defend the trodden and the oppressed whenever I can, but since I'm nobody too, I just rely on my best withering stare and hope for the best.

Anyway, does calling a Datuk 'uncle' make him a datuk no more? The best behaved people are always those who deserved to get the titles in the first place and didn't just buy them from some palace official.

Bakawali said...

Hi Asri,

Haven't heard from you for a long time.

We can make a difference in ourselves and then hope that the world will follow.

'Treat others as how you would want to be treated'