Can you "fire" your doctor?
"No patient should ever tolerate a doctor who is rude, insensitive, and dismissive of your complaints and concerns. You also should not tolerate a doctor who does not speak to you in comprehensible terms, or who routinely passes you off to his staff. Your doctor should also have a plan to diagnose and treat you. Remember, you are the client, and you have the right to "fire" your doctor."
Quotation taken from "The Everything Health Guide to Thyroid Disease"
The author's words resonated with me. Unfortunately, most subsidized patients in Singapore do not have the right to "fire" their doctors. On the contrary, they have to live under the "mercy" of their doctors. Very often, subsidized cancer patients suffer in silence when their doctors fail to discharge their duty diligently and professionally. Most people are fearful of antagonizing their doctors. In view of the small pool of competent doctors in government hospitals, subsidized patients really have no choice but only to pray for miracle, and empowered themselves with knowledge on their illnesses. Knowledge is Power!
Lately, I came across another two cases of poor management of cancer patients by government hospitals. The first case - the doctor got annoyed when the patient refused to go for an operation to remove the cancerous cells. He failed to recognize the fact that the patient had already lost confidence in western medicine after the recurrence of cancer on two occasions. He threw in the towel by saying : "Since you are so rich to go for alternative treatment, you decide on the next appointment date to see me." This marching order certainly does not help the patient. I advised the patient to write him a note explaining the difficult decision as the operation is a risky one. If the doctor is sensitive and compassionate, he will behave well during their next appointment.
The second case - a cancer patient was given anti-fungal drugs and went through an operation to remove fungal infection, but it turned out to be a "false alarm". It was a "wasted" procedure - with the patient having to bear the pain and costs. It was a mistake right from the start - the ENT doctor claimed that it was fungal infection, but a second opinion from an infectious disease specialist confirmed that it was not fungal infection. Initially, the patient refused to go for the operation but changed his mind after some persuasion from the ENT doctor. No apology was made by the arrogant ENT doctor for his wrong diagnosis. Well, I call it bad luck for the patient to run into such an incompetent doctor.
Posted on 8 July 2007
Feedback received from a cancer survivor on 11 July 2007
Thanks for being the spokeswoman for those who suffered in silence and in frustration.
Just read your recent posting dated July 8/07 and I really hope that the doctors concerned
will read it and change their attitudes from insensitive, arrogant and uncompassionate to
one who deeply cares and empathizes with cancer patients as well as other sufferers - more
so to those who are subsidized patients.
Thanks for creating this platform and do hope that others will come forward to support it.