India is all set to celebrate its seventy-three years of freedom! On this Independence day, as we turn back the pages of the past, it’s pretty clear that the road to development was not an easy one. We have come a long way since 1947. India’s progress can be measured through our world rankings in several sectors. Along with the progress in the economy and education and several other fields, India focused on enhancing the health services progressing exponentially.
According to the Medical Council of India (MCI), there are 9.8 lakh allopathic doctors registered in the country. The MCI data reveals that currently there is 11 lakh registered nurses/midwives.
On one hand, people consider medical community as the fount of all wisdom and caring, expecting it to explain everything, acting forever with selfless dedication and, on the other hand, they consider the medical profession as money-making and predatory, being exploitative of both illness and suffering. But as every coin has two sides, even the doctors vary widely. At one level, the doctor sees himself as duty-bound to offer care and aid to all who are in need, especially the poor and the disadvantaged. At another level, there are some with pretentious consumerism, who doesn’t care about anything but money.
Keeping apart the fact that the doctors are also a vulnerable group in India who faces violence most, there are some duties the doctors are bound to do. On this Independence Day, let’s take a look at what pledges could we take as a doctor.

1. Better doctor-patient relationship

The relationship between the doctor and patient has been defined over the centuries. This relationship is crucial to health-care delivery. What makes it unique is that it depends entirely on honesty and trust between the two parties. But the current situation in India contradicts all the doctor-patient relations. Violence against doctors and the deterioration in the doctor-patient relationship today is the result of the growing negativity and increasing distrust towards the healthcare sector because of the negative portrayal of the sector. Building a strong physician-patient relationship is in many ways a complex process. But it needs to be built.  A physicians’ ethical responsibility to place patients’ welfare above the physician’s self-interest. Medical practitioners should not exploit the doctor-patient relationship for any social, personal, business or personal gain. Remember, the oath does specify that doctors must not enter into unhealthy relationships with patients, particularly in the sexual context.

2.  Patient first, bureaucracy last

As a doctor, our priority should be patient. But, nowadays, the medical practitioners are becoming statistics who must achieve certain quotas. Billing is the essence of medicine today. We’ve seen many patients suffer in the evil decisions of bureaucratic hospital managements. We have heard horror stories of operations and procedures halted till the money is paid in advance, we have heard of a baby who died because they wanted a bribe for a bed or the treatment. These all are just one or two instances of the bureaucratic cruelty. As a doctor, you should be the healing touch, not the killing touch. Remember, we are doctors, and the patients consider us as the saviours. Do justice to that word!

3. Unite, act

Unity among doctors can solve problems at a certain level. For example, doctors, especially resident doctors face a lot of problems like patient workload, assaults and poor residential facilities. The doctors need to be united, which can bring out results. For example, recent assault against the junior doctors at NRS hospital West Bengal has created a stir in the medical fraternity. But the doctors’ protest across the country supporting the NRS doctors has led in introducing a new draft for punishing the people who hurt the medical community. If issues are handled correctly, problems can be solved.

4. Limited involvement in the corporate system

Stay independent as a doctor. Considering the current scenario, a good number of doctors are more into the corporate medical system. Physicians as a group have been slow to acknowledge that we are as susceptible to corporate marketing as everyone else on this planet, and this has allowed us to be manipulated in ways that can influence our clinical decisions. With the proliferation of private clinics and the emergence of corporate hospitals, there is a growing perception that doctors are operating intending to fleece patients. But remember, we are bound to a profession where our primary concern is patient, patient alone!

5. Work-life balance

“Service First” is the motto that every doctor follows. But Work-life balance is required for any human in life. In a country like India, where the population is high and the number of doctors less, finding work-life balance is tough. But too much of work can exhaust you mentally and physically, which can lead to burnout. Time outside of work can include wellness needs such as sleep, exercise, spiritual pursuits, and interactions with family and friends. Every working person needs to take a break time. Take joy in the little or frivolous things, keep things in perspective, go for vacations, moreover spend time with your loved ones whenever you get a break, at least through a call.

6. Follow ethics

A doctor must be spending most of the time with his patients. Rather than treating them, there are some ethics that we should follow as a doctor and as a medical student. Greed, lack of regulation, lack of accountability, lack of firm laws and a lenient society is allowing unethical trials to flourish in India. There have been instances where doctors performed surgeries without any established indications, unethical drug trials, misbehaviour of doctors and more. All these are unethical. MCI has framed certain code of ethics which is supposed to be followed by all the doctors. We should keep all those points in mind while working as a doctor.

7. Be patient

Violence against doctors is high in India. While some kith and kin of the patients blindly blame the doctors for their loss, others shout just of their emotional grief. In such circumstances, try to understand their emotional status. Remember, we are more used to controlling emotions. Console and make them understand the medical situation of the deceased/sick. If we have made a mistake, one should take the patient or relatives into confidence, accept that we have made a mistake and try to make up for it in whatever way we can.

Let’s break free from old and welcome new. On this day, let’s take a pledge to protect and treat the patients with respect and dignity and do our duty with utmost dedication. Dailyrounds wish you all a ‘Happy Independence Day’.

Source: First post, Huffpost, Drug Today Online, India Today, Indian Express, TOI, NCBI, Livemint.

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