Thursday, May 5, 2011

Medical Mysteries

So how the heck can someone die after a Cataract operation?

Examining the problem itself presents a problem as even things that should be public are so shrouded in secrecy that trying to work out a strategy/protocol becomes a most difficult thing..
Traditionally patients at Public Facilities, where all treatments are meant to be 'free', would 'pay' to get in the list for operations, supplementing the Doctor's public servant's pay- this became so entrenched  that those refusing were pushed down or off the 'list' - but it's not a good idea to antagonise someone about to embark on cutting up a part of your/your loved-one's body before the operation- so most people cough up and hope for the best!  This means that the patients are colluding in doing something illegal so if something goes wrong they usually don't feel empowered to challenge the doctor as bizarrely they feel he was acting in their best interest!  This may have changed a bit, but someone was recounting to me the recent horror of his wife being diagnosed with uterine cancer and being admitted for surgery and the nurse being abusive and insinuating that they 'jumped' the queue ahead of others!

That's not to say that the docs themselves are  not usually working in less than ideal conditions, at one point they were having to wheel their own patients in (during a strike years ago- one of the strikers now a Minister of Government, nice to see none of the personal vendetta that the current Administration is usually accused of!)-- but here's the problem when there's no Cost Recovery- if you're going for generic stuff -- like the gel for the Cataract surgery- it may not be as good as the Branded stuff-- or so they tell me. The problem also with accepting handouts and personnel with varying standards is just that-- the patient who had a hysterectomy then found out it wasn't cancerous, had a older type of surgery involving a vertical suture instead of the more modern bikini cut which promotes faster healing and less trauma by an Chinese-sounding doctor. But what was sad, was the abusive manner in which he was dealt with when he tried to ask about his wife's surgery from the 28yr old female Guyanese doctor who launched into a personal attack on the man in a manner most unfitting for a Doctor as we used to know it-- at the risk of sounding elitist, the continual lowering of standards means that people without a certain level of education will be put in situations in which they are unable to deal with for a variety of reasons -just look at the amount of clowns driving with a cellphone stuck to their ears!
I feel Guyana is moving backwards in this respect-- instead of empowering the patients to make good decisions about their health ( and the patients themselves getting more ignorant and aggressive) we are moving towards the defensive 'because-I-said-so' attitude of 'doctors' and blaming the victim mode. The whole thing is too ridiculous for words.

So the problem here is that the Government would not want to tarnish the reputation of their flagship purpose-built Ophthalmology Hospital and would never allow an independent enquiry, the Opposition only willing to lash out and drag down anything promoted by the Government without providing anything postive, means that the problem will fester and get worse-- instead of looking at the problem dispassionately and providing solutions so that they do not recur. Actually it boggles the mind that sensible things would not be in place in the event of a problem -- like having Oxygen at hand for emergencies. So much for the Hippocreatic oath-- first do no harm!


  1. one of the assumptions you make is that high class people are not abusive and well educated people are not pompous.. and that is the lowly educated people who want to cuss up.. remember that we do not have a culture of accountability here right?

  2. On the contrary-- it's the poorly educated people who are arrogant and pompous! The lack of accountability is a self-defence mechanism.