Time to rebuild doctor-patient trust

Today, Monday April 7, is World Health Day and this year, the theme, the World Health organization (WHO) says, is awareness and prevention of vector-borne disease. While the WHO issue is one thing, it is an apt time really, to focus on the doctor-patient relationship which seems to be deteriorating since the past few years. In recent years especially, we see that hospitals, doctors and allied medical personnel have been accused in sexual molestation cases, which is simply terrible for the image of medical care institutions. This has led to a steady erosion of trust by the common man and the sacred doctor-patient relationship.

Today, if parents of girls are wary of sending their daughter to see a doctor alone, or if women themselves fear molestation in a hospital or a clinic of all institutions, a place where people go to be healed, it is a sad commentary on our times.

Waning trust
The common man has also started viewing the medical professional and the profession with suspicion after numerous reports about negligence and giving ‘cuts’ to each other in the medical fraternity have emerged due to numerous exposés in the media. While generalisations are odious, it is true that a few black sheep in the profession have tarnished it to a great extent.

While it is true that laypersons are losing trust in medical care institutions, there is also something to be said for reactions of family and patients. Today, if a patient dies suddenly, doctors are routinely attacked, hospitals are trashed and paramedical staff is sometimes attacked too.

This is a reprehensible reaction from people who cannot simply resort to violence. Death can occur suddenly and sometimes, despite the doctor’s best efforts, a patient may die under his care. The family may be shocked but it certainly does not warrant that they beat up doctors because of that. Today, on World Health Day, let us rebuild the bridges of trust between people and medical professionals.

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