A recent incident where a doctor refused to treat an elderly patient at an outpatient department at a south Kolkata private hospital has created a stir among the public. Now, the doctors and hospital officials say that it was unethical to refuse an emergency patient even though medics were within their rights not to attend to a patient who misbehaves, provided the latter didn’t need life-saving treatment, they said.
“It is imperative for a doctor to attend to all emergency patients under any circumstance. Even if the patient misbehaves, the doctor can’t turn the ailing away. He or she can, however, report it to the hospital and ensure that the patient is banned from that particular hospital ” said West Bengal Medical Council executive committee member P K Nemani.
The standard operating procedure if a doctor is late is to inform the medical superintendent and leave it to him to take appropriate steps. “The latter should find out if emergency patients are waiting for the doctor. They should immediately be directed to other doctors. They should immediately be directed to other doctors. In this case, the patient had another medical appointment so he shouldn’t have been made to wait,” said RTIICS consultant Arindam Biswas.
An oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay felt that effective communication is the solution to such situations. “Surgeons often get delayed at operating theatres, which can’t be helped. If patients are waiting for him, he must inform the hospital administration. The latter should offer alternatives to patients, especially those who need immediate attention. Often, this communication is not made, which leads to uncomfortable situations like this one”, he added. He also added that the patients refuse to change the doctor even in emergencies.
But, Dr Nemani also added that it is difficult for the doctors to treat patients whose kin has been abusive. “In this case, the doctor may have been feeling insulted. He may have been under pressure as well. So, while critical patients can never be refused, hospitals should not tolerate misbehaviour with doctors,” he said.
Gandharv Roy, COO of Medica Hospitals, said that they understand the expectations of our patients. ‘However, at the same time, doctors face overruns during procedures or clinical emergencies. The key is to ensure timely communication with patients, explaining the reason for any delays so that they can understand each other’s point of view’, he added.

Source: Times of India.

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