off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid


Professional ethics,
HCPs and Medical Boards


Let the politicians play politics and settle their scores among themselves but the healthcare professionals should uphold professional ethics all the time and do not give an impression of working for any political group. Whenever they are called upon to examine a political patient as members of a Medical Board constituted by the Government, they should examine the patient and give their honest opinion, write the report and pass it on to the authorities. However, they must refrain from talking to the media under any circumstances and let it be the government functionaries to handle such a situation for various reasons.

Firstly most often they are not aware of all the facts and secondly most of the people in media do not have even core knowledge about health matters, hence there is every possibility of what they say being wrongly interpreted. Later on even if they issue any clarification, it won’t have any effect as the damage would have already been done by that time. It won’t be out of place to mention here that assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto failed in Karachi but was successful in Rawalpindi a few months later. In those days it was highly unethical on the part of Prof. Mussadaq Khan the then Principal of Rawalpindi Medical College to have addressed a press conference to give details of what happened when she was brought to the emergency. Later on the whole incident took too many turns and the real culprits have not been identified and arrested so far.

In another case, military ruler General Pervez Musharraf who is facing lot of court cases instead of going to the Courts, managed to get admitted in Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, remained there for few weeks and then slipped out of the country after getting permission from the courts and is currently living in Dubai. He has not appeared even once in the courts. On the other hand former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif on hearing the court verdict returned from London to Pakistan to go to Jail and has been regularly attending courts to face cases registered against him. However, when he fell sick, knowing that he is a cardiac patient, has already undergone some cardiac interventions including CABG, the authorities sent him from Adiala Jail to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences rather than the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology where he could have been provided adequate cardiac care. Not only that, the first important decision taken by the present cabinet which was announced by the Informaiton Minister was to put his name on the Exit Control List so that he cannot go to London to see his ailing wife who was seriously sick and everyone knew that she was not going to survive for long. Eventually she died and neither Mian Nawaz Shareef nor his daughter could be with her during her last days. One must remember that such wounds never heal.

More recently when Mian Nawaz Shareef complained of chest pain and discomfort, he was shifted to Services Institute of Medical Sciences rather than Punjab Institute of Cardiology by the authorities knowing that he suffers from numerous cardiac ailments and needs proper cardiac care. According to another unconfirmed report the administration of PIC was also reluctant to admit and take care of Mian Nawaz Sharif when he was taken there for checkup, for reasons best known to them. One fails to understand that why the authorities had to constitute four medical boards one after the other to examine him and give their report. He refused to face any further humiliation and asked to be sent back to Kot Lakhpat Jail. Later on when he complained of some discomfort and her health condition started deteriorating, he was again shifted to Jinnah Hospital instead of Punjab Institute of Cardiology where he could have been provided the much needed cardiac care. No one should be denied the basic right of appropriate medical care. Let the authorities take whatever decision they wish to take but the healthcare professionals must uphold professional ethics and also refrain from talking to the media on this issue. Let the government provide whatever information it wishes to the media but members of the Medical Boards should just confine themselves to preparing the medical report and passing it on to the government authorities and the patient as well as his attendants or his personal physician. Members of the medical boards as well as institution head where such patients are hospitalized should resist any temptation to get into limelight for the sake of publicity to talk to the media on this issue. This will ensure that they are neither misquoted nor they have to issue any clarification later on. Similarly when one of the political activists died under mysterious circumstances during a political sit in at Loralai, the Medical Superintendent should not have addressed a press conference to talk on this issue. These are very sensitive matters. The doctors should just concentrate on conducting examinations when they are asked by the authorities or the courts and just prepare the report and pass it on to the authorities concerned. It will save them from lot of complications later on. The image of the medical profession in the society is not so good these days hence they must take all the precautions and do not get involved in politics under any circumstances. They should always try to uphold professional ethics and keep up the glorious traditions of this noble profession.

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