Editor's Focus

Doctors Should Keep Showing More Empathy To Patients

Many doctors believe what they offer is the best for every patient, even though the system may not allow their efforts to be worthwhile.

Today in the Accident and Emergency Unit – we are busy as usual.

My call starts by 4:00 pm and ends by 12:00 pm. It is now two hours into my watch (I like to call my official duty that – it makes me realize there is so much at stake if I should fail), yet not a single patient reporting to the ER.

I really do not know how to say this, “But a whole lot of issues is definitely wrong with the Health System”.

Basic healthcare consumables must be provided for use by the hospital authorities – I mean basic hand gloves, syringes, methylated spirit etc – before we can begin to care for the sick.

However, this is not usually the case. There is always a lacuna that exists in healthcare service delivery. This takes the form of a delay in making medical consumables available or completely unavailable.

In a situation like this, many doctors refuse to treat patients and rightly so. Universal precautions principles ensure the role doctors have to play in preventing transmission of infection and diseases.

Doctors hold on to these principles and will not act until materials are made available for care to be given to the sick. This is a very constant occurrence in a huge number of hospitals. This is where doctors have to be empathic.

Anybody coming to the hospital wants medical care and attention. When these services are denied, the sick expresses despair and feel left to their inevitable state.

By being innovative and caring, doctors would impact more in a system that is grossly flawed. ‘Doing the best’ at any particular time is one-way many health professionals employ to beat a system that does not work.

There is much work that needs to be done. Everyone deserves a second chance, even though many may never enjoy a second chance. It is left for doctors to do the right thing by acting differently; by being empathetic.

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