Friday, November 30, 2007

High season for bungling doctors.

The number of bungling doctors around us seems to be on the rise. Granted, theirs may not be the only profession with careless or incompetent practitioners. They attract the limelight probably because their ineptness could very quickly lead to the death of person or lifelong incapacitation.

In the news yesterday, one such bungler had her practicing license revoked for mishandling a patient and thereby causing him brain damage. The young man had been brought in for a nasal surgery following an accident in his school playing fields. The doctor had administered to him inappropriate anesthesia.

The previous day, another careless incident by medics was in the news, this time involving the administration of a wrong combination of vaccines on another youngster. The young boy, Brian Kimutai, has been in a coma for several months with more than a million shillings already having been expended in bills.

The day before, news from across the border in Tanzania, had it that two young men had unnecessary surgeries performed on them after doctors in the hospital got the men’s names mixed up. In the ensuing cross operations, a brain surgery was performed on one who required knee surgery and vice versa! One of them now faces serious paralysis.

These may very well be just a tip of the iceberg as much more unprofessional clumsiness goes unreported. But times have changed and the days when doctors went about their duties unquestionably are long gone. Our lives are at stake and it is not late to become skilled at obtaining proper medical care and therefore be wiser medical consumers.

Medical practice is not as magical and revered as it once was. Get smart about your medical needs;

  • Ask questions and be observant. Ask “why?” Do not agree to procedures that do not make sense to you.
  • Learn the basics about tests and (especially) surgical procedures. Consider the risks and benefits of a procedure. Are there options? Get second opinions if you have doubts about proposed surgery.
  • Share in decisions about medication. Know why you need each drug before putting it in your mouth or applying it on your skin.
  • Find the right doctor/specialist and know their qualifications, training and experience.

Of course we would prefer not to get ill in the first place. So take good care of yourself but when you do fall ill make the effort to work in partnership with your doctor. Playing an active role in your medical care should be able to steer you clear of quacks.

A lot of helpful information can be fount at such sites as

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