The Consultation Room


Prof. Dr. CMK. Reddy

General & Vascular Surgeon, Halsted Surgical Clinic, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

What is the need for this book?

“Practice of medicine is more an art than science”.
“The time I spend in my office is more taxing on my expertise,
than when I’m in the operation room.”

– Prof J M Zimmerman, Johns Hopkins University.

Though every Doctor reads the same books and passes the same examinations, how is it that one Doctor becomes very popular, resourceful and much sought-after, while many others remain average ‘run-of-the-mill’ type, with no appreciable recognition in the society? Obviously, there is something very important, missing in the curriculum nor taught by the teachers, i.e., the art of practice of medicine. To be a successful Doctor, besides medicine, one should also master psychology and philosophy in dealing with patients. Lay people say it’s kai raasi’ or hastha vaasi’, but in reality, it’s sincere patient-friendly application of our knowledge and skill. Hence instead of getting jealous about successful Doctors, we should try to learn their ‘techniques’ and implement.

There are 3 ingredients in the medical curriculum. First is to know all the facts and figures of medical science, like anatomy, physiology, pathology etc, secondly to acquire various skills required to make diagnosis or to treat and lastly, most important, to nurture proper attitude towards our patients. It’s only for the third, we are called ‘Doctors’, otherwise like BSc Zoology, Chemistry or Physics, probably we would have been called as BSc Medicine.

We see many well qualified, knowledgeable and highly skilled physicians not being able to satisfy their clients, to the extent expected, entirely due to poor attitudes towards public relationship (PR) and scant realization of customer psychology.

As Charles Darwin put it: “it’s not the strongest of the species who survive, nor the most intelligent, but those most adaptive to change”. Then it became apparent that the young Doctors need to be oriented to the changed mindset of the present society, by finding out where generally the patients are disappointed, dissatisfied and unhappy about the total set up.

The aim of his work is to prime a practitioner to adapt himself to the ideal wave length to satisfy a patient, who may be sinister, insinuating, half-baked, outspoken, litigant, troublesome, criminal-minded and in short, most undesirable individual.

I am certain that many things said in this book are too familiar to the senior practitioners, but had to be reiterated for emphasis and comprehension. I hope this book written with an experience of 5 years of training abroad and 50 years of active practice in a cosmopolitan city, would serve the purpose and if, after reading this, the attitude and the mindset of a junior Doctor towards handling their customers, has changed for better, I feel, the effort taken is worthwhile and the time in compiling the book is well spent.

Lured by the hitech diagnostic and therapeutic devices around us, let’s not lose sight of the ground rules of clinical assessment and basic bedside manners, taught to us as graduate students. Also nothing in our professional conduct should override humane considerations, fondly expected by the suffering fellowmen. Unless we collectively try to preserve or restore the nobility of our profession, we will be passing on a highly hostile and litigating society to our next generation.

The statement that ‘individually we are very strong, but as a group, we are weak’, is very unfortunate, but true. Though most of our patients are sincere, cooperating and respect our profession, because of very few undesirable, troublesome elements, we are forced to view every patient as a potential litigant. It should be realized that most of the guidelines suggested here are applicable to Indian conditions, with some varations from state to state.