The Consultation Room

Prof. Dr. CMK. Reddy

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

Chapter 66: Media statements & interviews

The media, both print and electronic, may request for a ‘short clip’ from you on some current medical issue, more so if you are a senior Doctor, holding a position in some medical organization. If the subject doesn’t directly concerns you or if you are not the expert in that subject, you may decline to do so.

As far as possible, it’s better to avoid subjects, in which you are not very familiar. Alternately, you may opt to ‘co-operate’ with media, make some preparations on the subject and give the statement. If you wish to utilize the opportunity to project yourself as a leader or thinker or to give an impression that you’re an ‘all rounder’, necessary ‘home work’, has to be done as the occasion warrants.

Extreme diplomacy is required to answer some insinuating questions against the Govt or some other leader in the subject, realizing the media is ‘notorious’ to show your statement ‘out of context’ and drag you into a controversy.

During an interview by a leading TV channel, after I received a national award, a very sensitive question was put to me by the interviewer. At that time the Doctors in the state were on strike, to resolve some issues with the Govt. He asked me, ‘doc, as one of the leaders of medical profession, do you agree with the Doctors going on strike ?’.

Tremendous diplomacy is required to answer such questions, since we can’t say yes or no. I told him, ‘our profession is considered noble and essential, so normally we shouldn’t go on strike, putting public to hardship. But for a minute, let’s look at the issue in Doctors’ angle.

It’s not a lightning strike, they would have served notice to the Govt, at least a few weeks in advance. Out of their 10 or 15 demands, the Govt could have easily conceded at least 2-3 ‘reasonable’ demands and ask for more time to look into the others.

The Doctors would have certainly agreed to it and called off the proposed strike. But on the contrary, the Govt ‘sleeps’ over the matter ignoring them, till the strike actually commences.

Then they ask the leaders to ‘call of the strike and come for negotiations’. What were they doing all these days before the strike started? If only the Govt handled the matter tactfully, the strike and the resultant public inconvenience, could have been avoided. There is no point in blaming the Doctors now’. Finally I concluded by saying ‘in any case, Doctors shouldn’t have gone on strike, since their services are essential and life saving’.

The-Consultation-Room-1“The Doctor asked me to spend at least one hour per day on the treadmill”.

Chapter 67: Advertisements

As a rule, we are not supposed to advertise achievements in our profession, to ‘attract’ clients. But under the Corporate phenomenon, where nonmedical persons own or manage hospitals, who are not bound by ‘Hippocratic oath’, such barriers are broken and we often see ads about many hospitals in various media.

But it’s a double-edged weapon, while it may attract some patients, they come with high expectations and if we don’t live up to their expectations, they get disappointed and resort to litigations. Medical Councils can only initiate action against a Doctor for unethical practice, but unfortunately have no powers on hospitals or diagnostic centres. Hence it’s better that any particular Doctor’s address, phone number or his capabilities are not focused in media.

However you may author books, contribute scientific essays of public importance or take part in panel discussions or debates on matters related to medicine or public health and thereby share your experience with public.

You are also allowed to publish news when you start new practice, mentioning the specialty, change of address, if you sell or buy a practice or when you may not be available for consultation for a considerable period. Under the pretext of facilitating the patients carrying all the records safely, a subtle form of advertising is by giving a File or Folder with your details printed on it (either free or at nominal cost), to the patient.

The other advantages for such a file are, if the patient loses it, some good samaritan who finds it, may send it to you and it serves as an easy reference, if the patient wants to send any of his friends, for your consultation. Remember delivering ‘good professional service is the best and most ethical way of promoting our ‘business’ which is the main objective of this book.

Chapter 68: Licence from statutory bodies

Of course no Doctor can practice allopathic medicine without registering with Medical Council, either the State or MCI. If you migrated from one State to another, you have to Register with the new State, within six months of relocation, with a ‘No Objection’ certificate (of good standing) from the Medical Council of the previous State.

If you are practicing in an independent consultation office (not attached to a Hospital), proper licence from the Corporation (or any Local Body) authorities (for the building permission, house tax etc) and State Pollution Control Board (to verify the management of bio-hazardous waste generated) are required.

It’s funny, that we have to pay annual ‘licence fees’ to the Pollution Board, to grant us ‘permission’ to pollute air and water around us, the logic is beyond anybody’s comprehension. The Labor department will periodically inspect the premises to verify if working hours and holidays are being followed and minimum wages and other allowances are being paid to be employees as prescribed by law.

Interestingly they also want your weighing machine and thermometer to be ‘checked, calibrated and certified’ periodically, for reasons best known to them. Let’s comply with their rules and not enter into an unproductive argument with them.

The-Consultation-Room-2“You can see the Doctor now. Don’t ask him anything too medical”

Chapter 69: Mass casualties

Mass casualties may occur in situations, such as bomb blast, tsunami, building collapse, food poisoning in a school or a marriage function etc. The unfortunate victims have to be given first aid by the medical team, their seriousness sorted out and arranged to be shifted to various willing hospitals for further evaluation and management.

If yours is an independent consultation office, the role in mass casualties may be limited, but if your office is located within a hospital, the directions given by the hospital authorities have to be followed, which are generally guided by the ‘disaster & triage’ team of the town or city.

The total operations would be supervised by some senior Administrator (IAS) and higher officer in the Health department, coordinated by an officer of the Local Body.

It’s the bounden duty of every Doctor and paramedic available, to extend helping hand to the medical services, in such circumstances, on humanitarian grounds.


Chapter 70: Prescription pad by pharmacy or diagnostic centre

It’s better the Doctor avoids using prescription pads printed by a pharmacy or a diagnostic centre, which may instill some doubt in patients’ mind about Doctor’s nexus with that concern. But the alltoo-common practice, especially in rural areas for economic reasons, is difficult to eradicate and the public also have come to accept it as a ‘matter of fact’ and don’t draw serious inferences from it.

Very often, Doctors also use such pads for some miscellaneous scribbling purpose and not as a prescription pad. It may be alright if the name of the pharmacy or lab is printed at the bottom of the pad and not at the top in bold letters, above the Doctor’s name.