What about the rights of physicians?
21 Sep 2017 by Nev Haynes
Real scene in a hospital. A patient, lying on a stretcher, is pushed through the aisles and taken into an elevator towards the operating room where they will intervene him to remove a tumor. This has been diagnosed a few weeks ago. The surgery team awaits, ready and aligned like a battalion of riflemen, a bunch of medical and sanitary professionals who have studied this particular case. They have done lots of tests, they know the history of the patient and they are clear about how to solve the problem. Most likely, the operation will go as planned. However, the patient has signed a series of papers that exculpate the surgeon and the hospital from any liability in the event that “something goes wrong”. And this is something that happens every day.
Any surgeon who intervenes a patient accumulates an average of 10 years of studies and practices before being able to operate. We are talking about twice what it usually takes to finish other university degrees such as Business Administration, Law or Computer Engineering. Medical students, apart from having brilliant academic records, are the ones who can undoubtedly be blamed for what we call a vocation. In other words, without ignoring other professions, we know that the great majority of doctors are good at their work and feel a real passion for what they do.
When we put ourselves in the hands of a doctor, we are trusting the only thing that really is ours, our body, ourselves, to someone who will cut, remove, suture and heal part of us to improve and prolong our life. The confidence that we place in the doctor cannot be greater, and we also trust in his knowledge, his intuition, his experience and his ability to operate.
Patients have rights. Everyone, sooner or later, we will have to go through the trance of being hospitalized or intervened on some occasion. But doctors must be able to operate without the fear of being accused of malpractice. A surgeon could not operate with the mind 100% focused on the goal of the intervention if he thought about the legal consequences of the patient not leaving the operation room as we all would like. What would happen to all of us if so? The most difficult cases would be rejected by doctors, aware of the risks involved in their diagnosis and treatment.
Lawyers specialized in medical malpractice complaints abound. The list of causes is long. The most frequent complaints include misdiagnosis, recklessness or lack of professional zeal in the face of manifest symptoms, failures in surgical interventions, inadequate prescription of medication, medical fraud by fake doctors in cosmetic surgery clinics, as well as infections or contraction of diseases due to infection in hospitals or through contamination of non-sterile material. Suspiciously, it seems that more than to guarantee a service for the protection of the patient, there is a real business around medical complaints. But what about the rights of doctors?
Just as patients have their rights and doctors have their obligations, the latter are also covered by the Law. In this way they can exercise their profession more safely and more efficiently, resulting in a greater benefit for all parties involved. All this must be accompanied by the institutional development of respect for the professional by the patients. Patients, who are all of us, must trust and respect the opinions and decisions of medical professionals, in whose hands we lay our lives and those of our loved ones. Let’s not forget that doctors dedicate their lives to helping others. Let´s thank them for their dedication, helping them to help us.
Just as patients have their rights and doctors have their obligations, the latter are also covered by the Law