Ethical medical practice, listening to the patients will save doctors from litigations-Prof. Mahmood Shaukat


Admit and learn from your mistakes, tell the patient Truth

Ethical medical practice, listening to the
patients will save doctors from
litigations-Prof. Mahmood Shaukat

When the patients pay, they have right to expect good
professional service Treatment provided should
be in line with the standard practices

LAHORE: Prof. Mahmood Shaukat Principal of Allama Iqbal Medical College and an eminent paediatric surgeon highlighted the importance of ethical medical practice to avoid litigations in his presentation at the Familycon 2013 held here recently. He advised his professional colleagues to be careful in their practice otherwise public trust can whither away. Speaking about medical myths and litigations he discussed at length how to handle dilemmas of evolving controversies. Medical errors and omissions do take place everywhere but decisions which are not supported by evidence can land them into trouble. Treatment should be in line with the standard practices, he added.
Continuing Prof. Mahmood Shaukat said that to err is human. The cost of medical errors treatment in United States is reported to be twenty nine billion dollars every year. Medical treatment is becoming costly. At times there are misdiagnosis, medication mistakes and even mix up of the patients. Sometimes these mistakes are blown out of proportion by the media. It is important to identify the problem and find a solution but unfortunately no body looks at the remedy and what corrective measures should be taken. Our biggest mistake, Prof. Mahmood Shaukat said was that we do not listen to the patients. Healthcare professionals need to be trained in listening skills.
Perception of public about doctors, Prof. Mahmood Shaukat said has changed. Public has now high expectations while the changing role of media, judiciary, law enforcing agencies and political leadership has also created a different situation in which the medical profession finds itself today. The business model in healthcare delivery, he said, has certain obligations. The concept of nobility is no longer there. In the past medicine was considered a noble profession and doctors used to do lot of charity work. Now cost of medical treatment has becomes quite high. No body follows the code of conduct and health services have become tradable commodity. When the patient pays, he has right to expect good professional service. It is essential that we provide standard service, take informed consent and involve the patients in their disease management. Documentation of all the procedures, internal and external audit, transparency and courage to accept responsibility can go a long way in improving the current state of affairs. He also laid emphasis on improved communication at personal and community level. His advice was that we must tell the public what are our problems and under what circumstances and environment we are working. We do need some regulation and protection but poor attitude and rude behaviour of some doctors at times creates more problems.
Prof. Mahmood Shaukat was of the view that doctors should take the patients and their relatives into confidence, tell them the truth, provide an opportunity to the patients to register complaint. Doctors used to enjoy a position of authority but now the situation has changed. We need to improve the general medical knowledge of the society. Admit our faults, press the government authorities to start medical insurance scheme besides making arrangements of professional defense. He also highlighted the limitations and resource constraints under which the doctors were working in the country and felt that we need to make every effort to improve the quality of healthcare. We must respect the patient’s rights, improve the system, health infrastructure and put pressure on government to improve healthcare set up and infrastructure. We need to work with the Healthcare Commission set up by the provincial government as public was in no mood to allow the medical profession work out any regulation. Those who work hard with devotion and dedication must be offered awards.
During the discussion it was pointed out that human beings work at their best if there are some regulations. We need to inculcate professionalism, keep your knowledge update, ask for help if need by from your colleagues and respect the patient as they are now more knowledgeable. Doctors must admit and learn from their mistakes. There are some moral obligations and Trust in doctors was now withering. Ethics is in your heart. Practice ethical medicine and do not run after money. The chairperson in his concluding remarks said that Prof. Mahmood Shaukat has highlighted the importance of professional training and problems faced by healthcare institutions in delivery of service. We need to improve doctor’s communication skills to train them how to communicate and talk to the patients.

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