Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A Tribute To Smiling Tigers

They are deceivingly polite and softspoken, with measured tones and benign smiles. They ask questions in the most mild-mannered ways, and appear understanding and agreeable when you reply. Thank you, they say, as they exit the door. Not one insulting word. Not one frown. Just another easy case, you think.

Then, the bomb drops. The complaint hits you like a fallen anvil from the sky. What the f...?! The language used is a far cry from the peaceful homo sapien you saw the other day. The letter is cc-ed to top guys ( and gals ) who are now unwillingly roped in to investigate an otherwise insignificant matter. Loss of life and limb? No. Negligence? Nil. Bad doctor attitude? Zilch. Actual complaint? Well, I'm not at liberty to reveal details, but let's just say the patient looked happier than all of us working in the department. The only people who are unwell, apparently, are his parents.

Thankfully, I'm not at the centre of this storm in a teacup. Luckily, I'm not responsible for the infant's problem, nor was I the first doctor to see him. Most importantly, never underestimate the need to consult someone senior, which I of course did on this particular occasion. And sadly enough, this senior, who possesses a wealth of experience, now has to answer to two people with zero medical education and dubious "medical knowledge", demanding explanations from every single rank in the healthcare system hierarchy.

Incidents like these undoubtedly ruin your day. Disillusion and frustration set in quickly, and you wonder why, dammit . But it has an upside ( yeah, it does indeed! ). Chances are, this will blow over very soon, as no-one can find fault with the management plan, and the patient is none the worse for it. Eventually, it will merely be another closed chapter in the Annals of Hospital Complaints.

Also, something like this always makes for good gossip fodder. Another thing you should never under-estimate is a doctor's sense of humour. :)

And last but not least, I'm a little intrigued by the fact that I actually saw this coming. I managed to see through the facade, and kinda expected a "complication" such as this, so I made sure to be extra-sweet to them before discharge. Maybe that's why I warranted only one sentence in the 2-page rant. I should write a guidebook someday. :P

More to follow. Back to work!

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