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I write with no particular theme in mind, because I am random like that.

Sep
26 2009

Medical professionals, ethics and religion

I’ve had my first (and last) consultation with a general surgeon today, and returned home with a slightly diminished level of respect for the medical profession (and zilch respect for surgeons in general) and a mind that is still boggling at the ridiculousness of the whole situation.

If you’ve been following my Twitter updates during the past few hours, you’ll understand why I am so miffed.

My impression of him was mediocre at best during the first few minutes of my consultation. He wasn’t very personable, and basically treated the patient (me) like “just another object he has to deal with in his line of work.”

That impression went on a further downward spiral when he snapped at me later during the consultation.

Don’t you question me! Just do what I tell you to do” was his abrupt, arrogant response, when I asked him about my physio treatment and what it was for, and how he came up with his eventual prognosis.

Excuse me? I am the patient. I have every right to question you on what you are going to do and the rationale behind any treatment I need,” I retorted in response.

I am paying YOU for your time. Additionally, it is MY treatment and MY body that it affects. I have every right to know what is going on. It is a basic right, a given entitlement to any patient.

Is it so difficult for you to open your mouth to explain, given your experience and standing in your profession? Also considering that I am paying you a hundred buckeroos for a 20-minute long consultation?

It doesn’t just end at his lack of emotional quotient.

Unfortunately for me, Mister Surgeon happened to be a preachy religion advocate too.

Disclaimer:
For the record, I have absolutely nothing against religious people. I respect them for their beliefs and in return, they respect me for mine. However, I have zero tolerance towards those who don’t.

Towards the end of the consultation – just as I was about to leave – Mister Surgeon told me that “I should start praying more.

“I don’t pray,” I informed him. (For the record, I am agnostic.)

That was when he turned to my mother and asked what religion we were. Mum informed him that my family members are free-thinkers while I am an agnostic. In response, Mister Surgeon began to tut.

Ah, no wonder! You’re not praying at all! That’s why you are sick all the time and not recovering!” says he, visibly showing his displeasure.

My patience snapped.

Excuse me? YOU have YOUR beliefs and I have MINE. I have the prerogative to choose what I want or do not want to believe in, and you do not impose your beliefs on others.

The consultation ended on that note.

However, my encounter with Mister Surgeon didn’t end there.

A few minutes later, mum and I returned to the clinic as she wanted to ask the nurse some questions. Mister Surgeon happened to be at the waiting room at the time and approached me when he saw me.

“Let’s leave your mum and my nurse to talk. You don’t need to listen to them. Let’s go outside,” says he.

I was immediately on guard.

“Why?” I asked. “They are talking about my medical situation. I can stay around and listen in if I want to.

“Let’s go to the lift area. I want to talk to you spiritually,” says he. I didn’t respond. I simply glared at him.

“Well you see, God is asking me to talk to you,” he continues.

I continued glaring, still not responding. If he is so dense to the point of being unable to grasp the fact that I am not fucking interested and that people are able to live fulfilling lives without having to believe in some supernatural power, I am not going to dignify him with a response.

Mister Surgeon eventually threw his hands into the air and momentarily exeunted. However, he returned to the scene a coupla’ minutes later with the following conclusion – “I shouldn’t try to push God to you. You will end up becoming very angry with God. But I just know that in the future, one day – you WILL go to God!

Whatever.

Very nice try at self-convincing, Mister Surgeon. But sorry, you are still in denial of the fact that people do not need to have a religion to be happy.

And what’s with all that hogwash about “being angry with God”? If there is a God, I doubt there will be anything wrong with him. There are those who fervently subscribe to their religions, knowing exactly what it entails. But deluded followers like you, Mister Surgeon, is WHAT’S WRONG.

Attributing my (lack of) religion as a reason to why my health is deteriorating when YOU are a medical specialist?! Oh, come on. You have more than 50 years in the medical field. What is your excuse for coming up with something as baseless and insensitive as that?

That is honestly, stepping over the line, not to mention the height of unprofessionalism. In fact, this goes against the Code of Medical Ethics.

A physician shall treat patients as equals and not allow race, religion, political views or social status to have any effect on his actions towards them.

As a surgeon, specialist or any kind of medical doctor, thou shall respect thy patients’ right to choice, as well as their personal space and privacy. The relationship is to be maintained strictly at a professional level so as to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Introducing elements such as religion into the picture – especially Mister Surgeon’s pushy attempts at imposing his religion upon yours’ truly (despite my attempts at refusal) – is quite obviously, out of self-interest and basically shatters what’s remaining of the trust and mutual respect in the relationship.

In fact – based on feedback from my followers on Twitter and comments on my Facebook Profile – I have a substantial enough case to lodge a report with the hospital administration, which I won’t because I just can’t be arsed to.

I don’t care if you gained your medical degree in 1966 (with more than 40 years of experience under your belt). I don’t give a fuck if you have been accepted as a fellowship for some Surgeon’s society in 1970 (which is still, way before I was born). With EQ like that, you shouldn’t even become a doctor to begin with, let alone a surgeon.

I’m never stepping into your clinic again, that is for sure. You do not have my respect and my trust, and you never will. You may be educationally qualified but you’re scum in my eyes, as far as today goes.

How I wish I’ve gotten over the initial shock at the situation so I could have better articulated to Mister Surgeon exactly what I thought of him on the spot, and my distaste towards his actions.

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9 Comments

  • 26 Sep 2009
    9:04 PM

    ladidaa

    actually bren, it isn’t so much for you but the other patients that might end up going through the same thing as you. i say report him. he was very inappropriate with his preachings and he should know never to do that again.

    Brenda’s reply: I’d love to teach him a lesson too. But chances are, very few agnostics/atheists will pass his clinic. I just happened to be unlucky. :( I’ll figure out how to lodge a report first, and then decide how to proceed from there!

  • 26 Sep 2009
    9:25 PM

    Vickie

    As I’ve said in a Twitter reply, it’s highly unprofessional and unethical of him to say that. He shouldn’t be able to get away with it!

  • 27 Sep 2009
    2:26 AM

    Charlie

    Report him. He has no right to tell you you’re sick because you don’t pray, and anyway a true believer in God wouldn’t say that. Likewise he has no right to know your religion, in this country I think it’s banned so it’s quite possibly the same for you.

    You’ve also every right to question what concerns your health. Did this guy listen at all in medical school?

  • 27 Sep 2009
    5:34 AM

    Stephanie

    ^Charlie, he probably doesn’t remember anything from medical school, if he graduated in 1966…

    Again, this is totally unacceptable behavior. I wish there were some way for you to demand your money back for that. Money, sadly, talks, and tells people that they need to change their behavior for more.

    It’s like a positive AND negative reinforcement! On doctors! :D

  • 27 Sep 2009
    10:56 PM

    Administrator

    Update:

    As of this afternoon, I’ve sent in a feedback letter to Parkway Health – the management company of Mount Elizabeth Hospital and its clinics.

    I’ve initially posted a copy of the letter up here as a comment, but subsequently removed it as it may affect eventual outcomes.

    Basically, I gave an account of the situation, stating how it goes against the ethical obligations of a medical professional and requested for a deterrent measure such that future patients – particularly the non-religious – will not be subjected to what I had to put up with yesterday.

    I have no intentions of ‘destroying this surgeon’s rice bowl’ – as my mum has so crudely put it. Rather, I hope it makes him aware that what he has done is not accepted in the medical field, and that patients have the right to basic respect and impartial treatment regardless of religion (or anything else – ethnicity, gender … etc). In addition to that, he should be aware that he is not to abuse his superior position in the clinic.

    Further updates on the situation will be posted in the comments.

  • 28 Sep 2009
    9:02 AM

    She

    I was going ‘wtf?’ the entire time I was reading this thing. Seriously? What is that dude’s problem?! You handled yourself better than I would have, I would have been demanding a higher-up to complain to on the spot. This is so appalling.

  • 28 Sep 2009
    3:27 PM

    Ivy

    Not very professional, is he? Do keep us updated with Parkway’s response. I probably would’ve just walked out of there, if I were you. >.<

  • 28 Sep 2009
    3:57 PM

    Administrator

    Update:

    Parkway Health gave me a call this afternoon on behalf of Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Apparently, doctors and specialists at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre are not under their jurisdiction and thus, the latter has no control over their conduct in the clinics.

    They however, acknowledged that the surgeon has indeed misconducted himself, considering the secular nature of the medical profession and apologized that I had to put up with that as a patient.

    With my approval, they will be forwarding my feedback directly to the surgeon so that he will be aware of his misconduct – which in my opinion, works out for the best. (As he wouldn’t exactly be in trouble trouble with the superior beings and secondly, he’d be aware that what he did wasn’t right as a medical professional.)

  • 30 Sep 2009
    3:09 AM

    Maria Celina

    I have been meaning to follow up on the updates regarding this interlude. I’m very glad that you decided to send in your feedback about the incident. It’s a win-win situation because even though Mount Elizabeth cannot control the individual conduct of their medical staff, you nonetheless still gave your feedback and that the doctor will (hopefully) get the message.

    Like I told you via Facebook, it’s one thing to be religious (being a Catholic myself) but to use that religiosity to justify one’s arrogance is simply uncouth and not right.

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