A patient in medical distress endured two hours waiting to see a doctor at a public hospital. Eventually, when he was called in, he heaved a sigh of relief.
But as he started relating what ailed him to the female doctor, a call came in.
“Excuse me”, she said and took the call.
And for the next 10 minutes she remained on the call discussing with the person at the other end about the schemes of an Alhaji who was trying to have an affair with her.
The patient was boiling with anger, waiting for her to finish so he could lambast her for such thoughtlessness.
“I am so sorry”, said the doctor when she finished her call. I needed to take that call. It was from my medical director.
The patient was speechless. He couldn’t determine whether he should be angrier with the doctor in front of him or her boss who called to discuss a non-work related matter with a subordinate who has many sick people in the queue to attend to.
As he left, another tortured patient remarked:
Oga you tey inside o.
Again, the man was speechless as he thought:
Should a doctor take a call to discuss such mundane private matters while consulting?
But his experience was not unique, phones are becoming a nuisance in so many ways. Some doctors take multiple calls while having a patient right in front of them.
In some countries, medical personnel is dismissed for taking or making calls while on duty.
But phones are not the only distractions for doctors. The idea of having several doctors in a consulting room apart from being unethical, given that medical issues are supposed to be private, is also becoming a source of distraction. You often see doctors chatting with each other as they consult while hospital staff troop in and out with patients’ files.
Medical care is unlike any other practice. It deals directly with human lives and should be treated with utmost decorum and presence of mind.
There was a case of a doctor who asked a returning patient, “did I prescribe this drug for you?” Apparently, he prescribed the wrong medicine. Perhaps, he was distracted at the time he did it.
As a patient you have the right to call your doctor to order if you observe an improper behavior that may impinge on your right to good medical care.