With a more educated patient population, it is imperative that doctors remain professional in their approach, according to gastroenterologist N. Rangabashyam.
Addressing a gathering of doctors at a continuing medical education programme on gastrointestinal diseases at Madras Medical College recently, he said: “The medical profession is a lifelong apprenticeship and you have to keep physically fit.
Doctors should do a self-audit periodically, Dr. Rangabashyam said, exhorting them to maintain records. Adhering to simple rules such as being wary of trying to create records and playing gimmicks would enhance the doctor's credibility and prevent legal hassles, he said.
“As per statistics, errors are fewer in medical practice when compared to other professions such as engineering or aviation. But, increased public awareness, access to the Internet and fear of being penalised for wrong diagnosis and treatment are some of the realities that doctors have to accept,” he said.
Unlike in the past when diagnosis was an intelligent guess, doctors now have technology at their disposal. When patients come with symptoms such as general debility and loss of appetite, the doctor should conduct a full investigation, he said.
A general practitioner sees patients for all ailments and hence must maintain communication with the patient and with colleagues, Dr. Rangabashyam said. “A doctor should know to communicate with the sick and dying patients and their relatives,” he said, emphasising the need for communication lessons in medical colleges.
The four-hour medical education session held under the aegis of the Indian Medical Association, Tamil Nadu and MMC's Department of Surgical Gastroenterology included presentations by gastrointestinal surgeons and physicians from government and private hospitals.