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Medical mistrust

  • Published at 04:52 pm September 20th, 2013
Medical mistrust

For any relationship to flourish, trust is one of those ingredients without which most would find it hard and difficult to relate to the people we encounter in our lives. Not that trust is easily acquired but there are matters in which trust is absolutely crucial and as such easily agreed upon; because the outcome of not having any trust could easily have life-threatening consequences.

I experienced one such occasion in my own life, several weeks ago at an OBGYN appointment for my wife’s impending childbirth. The doctor alluded to a story of an earlier couple she saw, who out of a combination of fear and mistrust of her advice took a crazy decision that ended up risking their child’s life. It’s a difficult but real problem.

Most of it at least in the field of medical services, stems from paranoia resulting from the commercialisation of medical services, malpractice, lack of awareness from good briefing by the doctor and standard of solutions to common medical ailments in line with practice worldwide. Everyone I have met and asked to comment on this matter has had a horrifying tale to tell about a medical encounter gone wrong.

Setting aside the real and pseudo analytical reasoning for this mistrust for a moment the truth is that in any society, anywhere in the world, people are hesitant of ceding intimate control of their lives to strangers. It’s been the case for decades of medical practice and therefore the above reasons I mentioned only add to this pre-existing suspicion.

The only way to combat them, as developmental evidence from decades past has shown, is to work on rapid trust building that can result from doctors who recognise the need and supply the requisite information in a manner which can promote it. I think that is the area of the problem that needs further addressing by both the government oversight authorities and private corporations.

Doctors need to have additional training to put at ease the mind of a distrusting patient, voluntarily and in a robust manner. It is far too often that I have had to prod my medical practitioner for information that should have been offered to me without me having to try so hard. Doing so is common sense and would reduce concerns. It’s that simple.

Additionally, it’s vital that our national medical code be updated along with laws that govern medical malpractice. It is absolutely necessary to mandate a system that leads to quick resolutions to claims for malpractice. That would bring parity to the perception and real balance of power between doctors and patients that has for far too long been unfairly advantageous to medical practitioners and medical service providers in Bangladesh.

It’s also important that significant campaigns are launched to promote awareness of the rights that patients have, when they seek medical help. Not doing so risks the overall health of the medical services industry which has an immense growth potential in serving the unwell in a much more responsible, transparent and modern fashion.

Ensuring an environment where it’s easy to trust your doctor, will help save lives, avoid erroneous decisions, save our foreign currency and encourage medical professionals to not seek migration abroad, all the while building an army of competent, skilled, highly professional, interested, innovative and robust work force of medical practitioners in our country.

We are lagging behind and we need to do something about it as soon as we possibly can.