Medical doctors are not God

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

Doctors are not GOD. But, both the doctors and patients don’t act like they believe this.

I read a story of a young mother now suing her doctor and Oshakati State Hospital. She feels her precious baby’s death after receiving medical attention was caused by negligence. The young mother seems to have not known what was being done to her baby or why. The courts will have to sort that out. But there have been increasing tales of medical horror in the news. This matter must be addressed.

The medical profession is difficult and challenging, especially now during a pandemic. Good doctors are special. They deserve admiration and respect, but not adoration and homage.

Who says the doctor sitting in front of us is current with the newest techniques and research? Is your doctor or nurse reading the latest journals or consulting with colleagues. Is he/she writing papers for peer review, attending conventions, workshops and taking updated training in their field?

It is for the doctors to stay on top of their fields and specialities. Not all of them do it.

To be fair, doctors in State hospitals are besieged. These facilities are underfunded, poorly maintained, and understaffed. If a doctor in a rural area is expected to see an excessive numbers of patients in one day, the hospital becomes a Broadway casting office, not a sensitive caring place of healing. When this happens, it is partly the government’s failure when mistakes are made. We need more qualified doctors.

People unreasonably scream against Cuban or foreign doctors, but what choice is there? We need more qualified…I emphasize this word …QUALIFIED medical practitioners regardless of where they come from. More doctors can consult and advise one another.

This country sent hundreds of well-intentioned young Namibians abroad to study medicine in countries where they do not know the language. Too many of them return having studied using books they need dictionaries to decipher. They have never worked on live patients. Many of them return with diplomas, but are unable to qualify for hospital internships.

We don’t need solidarity doctors who cannot cure patients. We don’t need local medical graduates with credentials not accepted anywhere else in the world. We need qualified medical practitioners skilled and ready to effectively and sensitively serve the people.

Patients also must stop believing their doctors to be God. Their sheep-like acceptance of whatever comes from a doctor’s mouth adds to the problem. There are times when patients need to hold their hands up and say, “Wait a minute – slow down, what does that mean?”

Too many doctors give general medical instructions to undereducated, intimidated, language-challenged patients. Some of these doctors haven’t the slightest inclination to ever TELL the patient the diagnosis; explain WHY that diagnosis was made; and discuss WHAT the problem is.

Indeed, asking questions of a doctor who is forced by under-capacity to push patients out after 5 minutes (whether you have cancer or a cold) presents a logistics problem. These doctors can easily develop a perfunctory bedside manner. They know the entire clinic would collapse if not for their presence. Such power can make a doctor omnipotent.

Patients must certainly be respectful when asking questions or challenging a diagnosis. But patients have rights!

In other countries, medical malpractice lawsuits have cured healthcare providers of thinking they are God. Malpractice lawsuits should never be primarily for money. These legal actions must be done to highlight errors and correct procedures so that no one else will suffer in the same way.

If the doctor says you must take a mystery pill twice per day, patients must be proactive. Doctor, “What is in the pill? What are the conditions under which it must be taken? Does it make me drowsy? Is it narcotic or addictive? Does it kill the appetite? Does it elevate the temperature while it does its’ work? What is the diagnosis? How did I catch this? What should I avoid in the future to keep this from coming back? Is it contagious people in my home?”

Instead, people take the pills and say, “Thank you doctor”. They go home and shove narcotics down their throats or the throats of their children without a whisper.

Let’s begin to address this problem productively. Why not enact a regulation that forces ALL doctors and dentists to provide a certain number of hours (at government rates) at state facilities. Force them to bring interns and new doctors along with them as they serve the patients.

We must break the belief that “Doctors are Gods” in the minds of the patients AND in the minds of the doctors. We must focus on good health and quality of life.

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