KARACHI: As distraught patients continue to harangue doctors whenever they felt that their loved ones do not receive proper treatment, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) proposed that hospitals open specific centres where people can lodge their complaints against doctors or staff members.
Lawmakers and doctors from public and private hospitals attended a recent PMA seminar on the patient-doctor relationship. However, patient representatives were conspicuous by their absence.
PMA Karachi president Dr Idrees Adhi recognised that medical malpractice was a recurring problem across the world, but added that accused doctors should be given a chance to defend themselves. “The only documented evidence of malpractice by a doctor is the postmortem, which is [usually] not carried out in our country,” he remarked.
Dr Adhi opined that the media could “either make or break” the image of doctors, and cited the example of one television news channel that claimed that the administration of eye drops had led to a patient’s eyeball falling out of its socket. “How is that possible?” wondered the PMA office bearer.
Dr Adhi added that hospitals needed to thoroughly analyse the performance of their staff, and that promotions should be based on the results.
Doctors from rural Sindh and Balochistan spoke on the “inhumane” treatment meted out to medical professionals in their areas. “Doctors are beaten everyday in Balochistan, said Dr IB Baloch. “There is no tolerance at all in society, and doctors get caught in the backlash,” quipped PMA Sindh general secretary Dr Pir Manzoor Ali.
Private Hospital Association general secretary Dr Fasih Ullah Mir said that hospitals needed to take responsibility for the safety of their doctors, and that they should also establish complaint centres for patients.
“We have a very emotional society. [The proposed] health regulatory body will protect the rights of both doctors and patients,” added Dr Mohammad Ali Shah.
Mujtaba Memon of the Sindh Doctors Welfare Association, and Nisar Ali Shah and Nawaz Ali Mallah lamented that doctors in the province did not have a service structure, and that they were frequently kidnapped for ransom as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.