©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

As the year comes to an end, we finally wrapped up writing, editing, rediting and re-re- editing our book on doctor- patient relationships. Oh no…dont get me wrong! This is not a promotional post! Those will come later :), closer to the release, and there is still some time for that!

However, as we spent hours researching facts and hard data on doctor patient relationships, one fact that really struck me very deeply was that 92% of patients “trust” their doctors! For more than 25 years, medical professionals have topped the charts by being the most trusted profession of all. People trust their doctors more than they trust teachers, judges, engineers, professors and lawyers…… Need I say anything about media, government, politicians and advertising? I dare not…. I can just blame it on the data! Lol 🤣
©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

In this era where negative news sells like hot cakes and probably rakes all the moolah, positive news tends to get buried under the weight of all the negativity. No one is interested in the positive. Positive ofcourse is boring. Which newspaper would like to publish that today 10,000 patients underwent successful medical treatment in the city of Mumbai! Is that even news? No way…But ofcourse they would jump on- “one patient had a complication” or “one doctor screwed up” or “xyz sues abc”. That is interesting and that makes people buy newspapers and watch news channels!

Coming back to the core issue of doctor patient relationships. Today a lot of patients think that doctors are predators. Infact some doctors also think that doctors are predators! Well……what can I say to that……….On the other hand, a lot of doctors view every new patient as a prospective litigant. No one can blame us for being defensive because afterall, tomorrow we may get sued for some rare test that we didnt order. ©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

However, the fact that more than 90% of the patients still trust their doctors places us at a very important “Y” junction. I think this is the time to initiate a conversation. Not every doctor is a predator and not every patient is a potential litigant. In day to day life, doctors and patients generally share a beautiful relationship. Most of us doctors, enjoy conversing with our patients, some of our patients become our best friends, we wake up to messages filled with heartfelt gratitude and most us have the talent to connect with others easily. As for patients, most of them have high regards for their doctors, they share their darkest secrets with us and trust us deeply. Afterall they place their lives in our hands. Having said that, even though this is a transactional relationship and there is a fee to service, no amount of money can ever be equated with the value of life and the weight of responsibility on the doctor’s shoulder.

In the recent years, morale in the medical community has been at its lowest. There have been increasing incidents of assaults on doctors, hospitals being vandalised and all kinds of violence pervading into our system. Politicians (including you know who!) and media have just added fuel to the fire. ©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

Doctors today have the highest rate of depression and suicide. Burn out rate amongst medical residents is one of the highest in the world. We probably are the only profession made to feel guilty about charging a fair fee and have to justify it every single time. Most doctors I know and that includes myself, do not want their next generation to be a doctor. ©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

So, where are we heading in 2019? Are there any solutions to these questions. In my mind the solution is evident. I agree that their are outliers amongst doctors and patients but more than 90% of doctors are good doctors, and more than 90% of patients, trust these good doctors.

Need of the hour is to generate more positivity from both the sides. Somewhere the tracks have to converge and a conversation needs to be initiated. Fear of laws can only help us temporarily but ultimately the behaviour of people is reflective of the society they live in. It is heartening to see such reports and it gives us hope that the present and the future are not as bad as they are made out to be. Just like patients are looking for doctors they can trust, doctors are also encouraged when patients trust them. I hope and pray that the new year brings a fresh wave of change and positivity. This shall not be a twain that will never meet!

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

Ref: IPSOS Mori veracity index 2018


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