Managing political
patients and HCPs

Dear Editor,

You have timely reminded the healthcare professions and the medical profession in particular regarding managing political patients and talking to the media about their disease status in a detailed report published in July 1st issue of Pulse International. Doctors must learn to handle the media with car. As reported, in the recent past some incidents did resulted in embarrassments to some senior members.

Electronic Media are fundamental and fast communication tools; appropriate use can eliminate confusion and clear misunderstanding. However, a misinterpretation of medical jargon or any statement without scientific evidence is likely to produce the opposite effect. Most of the doctors are not formally trained to appropriately use media, especially in political/ professional controversy. Doctor patient relations are governed by rules of medical ethics. Physician is under duty-of – confidentiality obligation, he/she has the right to refuse to give public opinion, interview, or talk to the condition of his or her patient or speculations for future. Abrupt opinion in the media leaves the public confused and the authorities interpret it to their advantage. We should also learn lessons from confusion created by the media on the use of Chloroquine for treatment of Covid-19. Public, political leaders and some doctors here in Pakistan also, hailed the drug as a godsend gift, out rightly ignoring its life-threatening toxicity. A Brazilian doctor, on the behest of president Jair Bolsonaro, a staunch ally of president Trump,( who repeatedly down played the threat of Covid -19,)got snared in the nightmare situation for claiming publicly the drug as effective treatment for Covid-19. Clinical trial of drug in the hospital was resisted in peer review meetings, its use without support of powerful study was considered insane, some even guessed, the government was going to kill the patients. Monkey see, monkey do, lead to doubtful deaths of several patients, mishandling of the situation, professional indignation for doctors and anti-government protests in Brazil.

It is not true that doctors are absolved of their public responsibilities in desperate situations and public controversy, they should clarify it by upholding professional ethics, informed consent of patients, supported by powerful scientific peer reviewed evidence, and not with an agenda to please the public or the government or seek popularity.

Every hospital handling the cases of political personalities or conducting the trial must appoint a spokesperson to deliberate daily on the condition of the patients, after getting a briefing from the team of doctors. Doctors should prepare reports hand over to the health department through a proper channel with documentation. Any new treatment based on statements issued by the political person should not be taken as true until tested with established scientific tools.

Prof. Ghulam Asghar Channa
Former VC SMBBMU, Larkana.
Karachi - Pakistan.

© Professional Medical Publications. All rights reserved.