Stories about doctors

Dear doctors, what happened to your bedside manner?

Why do so many doctors here treat their patients like mindless cattle? Yes, I understand that doctors regularly treat relatively uneducated patients who may not be able to follow procedures or understand information. However, when a person comes along, clearly literate enough to make sense of what is happening, it is beyond me as to why doctors treat their questions or opinions with careless disdain, as if we have foregone the right to ask and respond by stepping into their domain. Fine, you find it difficult to keep me in the loop about what you are doing and how you arrived at your ...

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Why should I become a doctor when I can be a nurse?

Beta, nurse kyun, doctor kyun nahee? (Why do you want to be a nurse and not a doctor?) “Nursing? Woh choro, doctor banjao” (Nursing? Leave that and become a doctor) These were some of the things I had to hear when I announced to my family, relatives and friends that I wanted to become a nurse and yes not a doctor. What I received was somewhat a mixture of emotions ranging from happiness and joy to shock and disbelief. Mostly shock though. Not that I am against doctors, oh no, of course not! But I just wanted to pursue something in medicine other than an MBBS and nursing was the next ...

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Poor health care in Islamabad

Islamabad has failed to set examples for other cities in terms of providing better health care facilities to its citizens. Currently, there is an acute shortage of public hospitals to cater to the needs of poor patients coming not only from Islamabad but also from as far off as Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir. In the rural set-up, the 14 basic healthcare units (BHU) and two rural health-care centres (RHC) are in pathetic conditions. All rural health centres, except one that was upgraded last year, lack basic facilities and are in a shambles. There are no boundary walls, no electricity or clean ...

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Why doctors want to leave Pakistan

I was born in a society where the field of medicine was considered a ‘sacred’ profession. A doctor was called “Doctor Sahib” out of mere respect. Reflecting on these societal views, I too, aspired to be a doctor. Little did I know what I was in for.. After graduating from medical school, I joined the likes of many enthusiastic doctors and started working in a government hospital in Islamabad. The job expected me to work over 80 hours per week and paid me nothing at all because all the paid seats (which were a mere handful) were occupied by doctors who were ...

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At government hospitals, life is cheap

It is almost impossible to change the fate of those little children who depend on government hospitals to save their lives. Recently, I visited several hospitals in Karachi and the condition of those hospitals and the quality of the care provided to the children was disgraceful. The poor health system prevailing in Jinnah Hospital, especially, made my heart sink. There was no electricity and to my horror, a large number of insects and cats were roaming about in the wards aimlessly. The terrible stench from the toilets could be smelled till the far ends of the corridor, and to think that this is a hospital where cleanliness ...

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Miscarriage: Who I tried to forgive, what I tried to forget

I slip the white satin sheet off me; the light from the sun encases me in a newer, warmer sheet. Curtains are drawn and the window beams at me, 12pm signalling a wakeup call. Late mornings have been the norm for nine odd months. But neither I, nor the sun, complain we are happy to rise at a later time. He has woken up already. He has left for work already. The maid has been let in; she is dusting the sofas in the next room. My feet touch the marble and I sit up. Like a reflex, my hand comes to ...

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The baby eaters of Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi

Undoubtedly, one of the most horrific and gruesome images that can be conjured up is a newborn getting feasted on by rats. This kind of disturbing image is usually seen in the most macabre of horror movies, but as it turns out, reality in Pakistan even surpasses the most bizarrely fabricated fiction. An infant, born to Rahila Bibi, was severely bitten by rats this Sunday at the gynaecology ward of the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi. News reports state that the surviving newborn, barely a day old, has visible rat bites on his face, neck, ears, and other areas of ...

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Dr Sana Usman: Strangled by a hospital elevator

I didn’t actually talk to her during my five years at med-school. I only saw her occasionally, and noticed her even more infrequently; but those who did, lost her the morning of October 9, 2012. Her death was not due to natural causes; her death was also not an accident; her death was no less than murder. Her name was Dr Sana Usman and she was my batch mate in Sindh Medical College. We had only just graduated in March and it had been five months since we have started our house jobs in Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) – one ...

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What about the good that happens in Pakistan?

We are a nation full of flaws, but we have some good aspects as well which are rarely highlighted. I recently met a doctor, a pioneer in gastroenterology, who received the prominent civil award, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, this year for his contribution to the field. During our meeting, he commented on the prevalent negativity in society. The media hunts down only the bad news and presents it as trophies to the public, he said. He told me about a workshop organised in March this year, where despite the travel warnings due to the security situation in Karachi, 29 international experts from the US, the ...

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The doctor cannot see you today – he’s tired

Ever wondered if your doctor had a birthday party to attend? A valeema to go to? A bunch of kids at home wailing out in indignation because daddy hadn’t come home in time to take them to their favourite park? He would have, had he not received a call about a patient with a ruptured aneurysm. As a doctor, I have never met a surgeon who, at some point during the surgical procedure, did not envy the person sleeping soundly on the operating table in front of him. Barely more awake than the patient he operates upon, his tired mind races through the ...

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