Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why do doctors have such little clout ?

We respect our personal physician , and whatever he says carries a lot of weight. We trust him and follow his orders . Since doctors are highly respected professionals , one would expect that the medical profession itself would carry a lot of clout. Unfortunately, this is not true. There are a number of laws which are passed , which regulate the medical profession, but which are very doctor - unfriendly . They seem to have been drafted without considering any input from doctors at all. In fact, even though doctors vociferously and actively speak out against these draconian rules , their voices are not heard and these bills are passed and become laws.

Doctors are not unreasonable people and they are happy to follow sensible regulations . It’s just that many of these laws are so terrible , that it's impossible for a practicing doctor to comply with them. This is why doctors oppose some of these laws tooth and nail – not because they don’t care for their patients, but because these laws will unleash an Inspector Raj, which will allow babus and clerks to exploit doctors.

One would expect that if doctors unitedly opposed these laws, they would never get passed.  After all , can’s doctors make their voices heard ? Can’t they put up a united front and actively stop the passage of these laws, which only seem to hurt everyone, and not to do any good at all.

Unfortunately, even though doctors have a lot of personal clout as individuals , it seems that as a profession we've not been able to get our voice heard. There is no one respected individual who speaks for the medical profession. Usually , it’s an association which is supposed to represent professionals, and while there are a number of medical professional societies, the sad truth is that the doctors themselves are so busy fighting in order to become presidents and secretaries of the societies, that they do not have any unity. So much bickering and back biting goes on within these associations that that no one respects them at all – not even the doctors whom they are supposed to represent ! The office-bearers within these associations are so busy fighting with each other for plum posts that they seem to forget that they were appointed in order to represent the views of the entire medical profession.

Just think for a minute . If the President’s or PM’s personal physician told him that a proposed law was bad for doctors and patients, don’t you think the President or PM would listen to him carefully ; accept his input ; and make the necessary modifications ?  Unfortunately, we don't seem to have got our act together as doctors , as a result of which we do not seem to be able to reach out to these key decision-makers, even though every important decision maker in this country has their own physician , who is a member of the medical association .

Rather than blame the politicians for passing laws which are unfriendly to us, we need to blame ourselves, because we have failed to project our viewpoint with enough force and vigor to the people who count. This is the reason doctors are being bulldozed ; and these doctor unfriendly laws are being passed. The biggest tragedy is that all these rules will not hurt only doctors , they will end up hurting patients as well . Doctors will soon learn to game the system in such a way that they will pass on the costs of these laws to their patients. By then , it'll be too late to undo the damage and all of us will end up paying the price in the long run.

The reason the voice of doctors is not listened to with a little more respect is because doctors themselves do not speak with a united voice !

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