Recent incidents of violence against doctors and subsequent protests by medical practitioners once again highlight that the doctor-patient relationship has changed for the worse. True, violence against doctors cannot be condoned on any grounds. However, it is important to acknowledge the root cause of the increasing assaults on medical practitioners. In this regard, there’s no escaping the fact that commercialisation of the medical profession has brought us to this pass.
This commercialisation process starts right from the medical education level where many students pay large capitation fees to gain admission through management quotas. As soon as such practices are allowed, medical education becomes an investment for future earning. And if the medical profession is treated just like any other career, then problems are bound to crop up.
For, let’s accept the fact that the medical profession is unlike any other job. Doctors directly deal with human lives and stand between life and death. This is precisely why doctors have a status only next to God. But if doctors make money the sole driver of their profession, then they lose that godly status and become mere mortals.
Earlier, those who became doctors did so to help people. That was their sole motivation. However, today medicine is just another career option with private hospitals becoming money-making machines where doctors are given monthly targets to generate revenues. This has created the impression that doctors are untrustworthy, they push unnecessary treatments, and are not honest with patients’ relatives. In fact, hospitals have become places full of fear and dread rather than places of healing.
This is precisely the reason assaults on doctors are happening. When patients and relatives lose respect for doctors, the latter are seen simply as providing a service. And when customers are unhappy with a service, they vent their frustration. I repeat, no violence can be condoned. But doctors and the medical fraternity need to reconsider their approach to the profession. Doctors would do well to rediscover the spirit of selfless service that defined their predecessors. Only then will people start respecting doctors again and make the doctor-patient relationship a positive equation.