gerund or present participle: jousting; noun: jousting

(of a medieval knight) engage in a sporting contest in which two opponents on horseback fight with lances

compete closely for superiority

This is the dictionary entry you get when you Google the word ‘joust’. It’s easy to get a mental image of medieval knights on horseback, clad in armour and bearing lances, sporting in a verdant ground for an audience-a thrilling spectacle that brings on cheer. Something that’s exhilarating, perhaps even fun.

But there’s nothing remotely fun about jousting as it’s practiced by doctors- criticizing a previous doctor, by a comment, a statement or a gesture, perhaps even making a written entry in medical records. To what extent the practice is born out of genuine concern for the patient is open for debate. But there are a couple of things which have to be said about jousting that brings trouble down not just on the criticized but also on the critic.

The accusation is made with hindsight

Time is certainly one of the most baffling concepts in human life. Once you begin to see events unfold in linear time, your perception of the world is shaped so.(For a context, dig this: a study shows that a particular population with written script read from top to bottom-and not left to right as in most languages-sees time as a progression from top to bottom).

Once you are on linear time, you have divisions such as past, present and the future. And one of the bounties that the present bring you over the past is the advantage of hindsight. You know, the aspect that makes you say, “Oh, I shouldn’t have had that extra burger!” after you get severe stomach ache.

In our case, the doctor who criticizes a previous doctor who treated a patient has that advantage. One does not quite know what constraints the previous doctor functioned under, which may have contributed to his action that makes one criticize. In other words, it may not necessarily be that you are smarter, just that you are treating the patient at a different time, under a different set of circumstances giving you a different perspective.

The critic also has to face hassles

Nobody likes to get entrenched with legal procedures in the country. Not any more than one would eat stale food when a better alternative exists. When a doctor jousts another, and if the patient takes matters to the court, he or she would also be called to provide proof to back the criticism. In other words, you are bound to spend a sizable amount of time having stale food.

The tarnishing effect on the profession as a whole

When a patient hears a doctor criticizing the previous doctor, s/he may seek to move the law against the accused doctor. Or maybe the patient may resort to enlisting a mob of relatives, which could be worse. Either way, these kinds of things make the public view the medical profession with suspicious eyes, further worsening the already poor doctor-patient relationship.

It’s not meant here that if there’s a genuine case of lackadaisical approach by a previous doctor, one should keep mum about it. Only, accusations against medical professionals are always grave, affecting both their career and the profession as a whole. A criticism, if it must be made should come after looking into the circumstances in which the previous doctor functioned.

Otherwise, the crowd won’t cheer for the medical profession and many an innocent doctor would land in trouble.

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