Medical profession should give a serious thought to stop, reverse the rapid self destruction of its integrity, respect and honour- Dr. Sultan Abdullah

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Medical profession should give a serious thought to
stop, reverse the rapid self destruction of its integrity,
respect and honour - Dr. Sultan Abdullah

Public Opinion Survey shows 89.2% desire improvement in doctors
behavior, majority visiting public hospitals is not satisfied with service

FAISALABAD: Ethical issues in medical practice are now being discussed quite frequently not only in the media but within the profession as well. The image of the doctor’s community is quite low in public at present for various reasons. Ethical issues are also discussed by PMA, PIMA as well as by professional specialty organizations at their conferences but there have been no visible improvement in the state of affairs. Normally the healthcare professionals boast about doing a great service to the community as compared to other professions but the findings of a Questionnaire based public opinion in Faisalabad paints a very dismal picture says Dr. Sultan Abdullah, former Associate Professor of Chest Diseases at Punjab Medical College/Allied Hospital Faisalabad.
Sharing the details of this Survey with Pulse International Dr. Sultan Abdullah says that 89.2% of the respondents wished improvement in doctors behavior, 29.1% took their own discharge being dis-satisfied with the service while 15.5% left the hospital without informing the hospital. This survey was conducted among one hundred twenty two patients/relatives leaving the Allied Hospital affiliated with Punjab Medical College. They were requested to participate in this survey by filling up Urdu version of the Questionnaire. In case the question was not clear in their mind, clarification was provided by those making this request. The results of this Survey, Dr.Sultan Abdullah says are embarrassing and alarming. Hence it is high time that the medical profession must do something to put a stop and reverse the rapid self destruction of its dignity, respect and honour.
This study though very small but its findings cannot and should not be ignored and further large studies need to be done to evaluate and control this extremely worrying situation. Some of the eminent teachers who worked as Principal of Punjab Medical College have aspired to constitute Think Tanks to look into these serious issues. So far no statistical data is available on any aspect of ethical issues in medical practice to support or refute any claims. The best way of assessing ground realities, Dr. Sultan Abdullah feels, is asking the end users of their service the patients and their loved ones what they think about the service provided by the healthcare professionals.
Allied Hospital attached to Punjab Medical College was selected for this survey presuming that medical ethics is not only being taught to medical students and doctors but it was also practiced in its letter and spirit. This survey showed that almost 80% of the patients benefiting from the service were either running their own business or were employees working in private or public sector with monthly remuneration below National Pay Scale 17. Only 7.3% belonged to Executive Class and 10.6% belonged to daily wage earners which suggest that this healthcare facility was failing to cater to the needs of the most poor and needy.
When asked about the quality of care they received in the hospital, 58% described it as average, 15.5% termed it as not good, 12.29% called it disgusting and all this calls for some serious thought by the administrative authorities. All patients expect to be treated with respect and dignity but 51.6% of the patients in this survey said they were not treated with respect while 23.7% said they were insulted from time to time. Attention by the nurses and paramedical staff was appalling, 66.6% reported receiving nursing services after repeated requests with verbal insults by the attending nurse as a Bonus, 47.5% provided help after receiving some cash, 18.03% refused to help while another 15.6% offered plain insult.
Asking about the service provided by the doctors, 60.6% provided emergency help only after repeated requests, 20.5% refused help despite repeated requests, and 6.5% said no duty doctor was available when emergency help was needed. 29.1% got discharged being dis-satisfied, 15.5% left hospital without informing the hospital. When asked will they like to be admitted to Allied Hospital if they fell sick, 43.7% said NO,27.7% will do so under pressure only while 4.2% said Never. According to this Survey 69.7% of the participants experienced more or less similar conditions while vesting Out Patients Department. 54.5% said that the behaviour of the doctors is much better if they are consulted privately while 17.3% felt no such difference. Only 20-4% patients in this survey consider doctors in general professionally sound and competent, 9.9% see them sympathetic whereas 26.4% felt doctors behavior was business like.
Despite such a low level of ethical medical practice, the public in general still respects the medical profession and 89.2% desire improvement in their behaviour while dealing with the patients. 25.8% consider them different from others in the society. Many look at the doctors as Role Models to be followed. This is a very small study but its findings do not need to be ignored, Dr. Sultan Abdullah added. Dr. Ghazala Mohyddin Principal Research Officer of Punjab Medical College Research Cell and Mr. Mohammad Abdullah Assistant Librarian at Punjab Medical College helped in collecting the data for this survey.

Note: The period of study is not mentioned and since more recently the young doctors have been observing strikes quite frequently, it might have adversely influenced the results. However, despite all that, the hospital administration at healthcare facilities all over the country need to look at these issues seriously to enhance patient’s satisfaction, improve quality of healthcare being provided which will go a long way in improving their image in the public.

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