Sunday May 30, 2004
Doctors who make you sick
By Effendi Azmi Hashim
I WAS in a pretty bad state over the last couple of weeks. I fell ill with a bug that took a lot out of me and pretty much drained me every evening when I got back from work.
While it wasn't serious enough to keep me away from the office (or so I thought), it was enough to spoil the long May weekend and stop me from carrying out my usual day-to-day plans. As usual, I resisted all attempts to take me to my local clinic. InsteadI treated myself with a concoction of over-the-counter medication from Guardian. I did enjoy the sympathy and pampering from the missus but I guess she reached her limits of patience when she finally marched me down to the doctor. I finally got to use my insurance medical card, which had hardly seen the light of day.
So there I was in the clinic filling out the obligatory insurance forms as well as my personal details before sitting quietly (in some minor agony) for my turn. When the clerk called me in, I was attended to for about five minutes by the doctor.
Not really being told what I had - she had her suspicions - the doc handed me a prescription and sent me to the pharmacy. Relief at last, I thought, as I gulped down my tablets. But over the next couple of days, I still didn't get any better.
So I trekked down to the same clinic again, only to be attended to by a different doctor who spent a few more minutes with me, diagnosed me differently from the first doctor, and then proceeded to give me more of the same medicine and some liquid that wouldn't look out of place in Dr Jekyll's lab.
Did I get better? Nope. After a few days of still no recovery, I visited the clinic yet again to meet a third doctor who looked at my file, listened to me whine for a couple of seconds, and then went ahead and prescribed the same medicine. She then tried to cut the session short as if I wanted an MC (which was far from my mind).
After two days of nausea and lethargy, I decided I'd had enough and went straight to the nearest private hospital, where a doctor spent a full 15 minutes going through my problems, listening to me, explaining things to me as if I had some intelligence, and then gave me a whole set of "real" medication. Coincidentally, I was better within 48 hours. The only downside was that I had to fork out a considerable sum of money to get better.
Why is it that whenever I go to a local GP or clinic and get some medication (usually under my insurance), I never seem to get better immediately? My friends and colleagues all seem to have similar experiences. It's fine to go to your local clinic when you've feeling a bit under the weather, but anything more serious, head straight for your nearest hospital.
I am pretty disappointed with the clinic I visited. Not only were they not able to get me better after three visits, they didn't even think about referring me to a hospital. It's sad, as I believe that there are many good doctors out there with decent clinics and practices serving the public to the best of their ability. However, there is a minority that really isn't doing any justice to the profession. With the complications of large medical insurance companies getting involved, the system seems further distressed.
We've all heard how some doctors give sub-standard treatment and medication to insurance covered patients because their margins are lower for them. This is probably a fallacy, but patients lose confidence when they feel that they can no longer rely on their local GP.
I'm feeling a lot better now and am on the road to recovery. It's just a shame that I had to be ill and in pain for such a long time. Lessons I've learnt: When ill, go straight to the doctor and don't play play. Once you've been and you still don't get any better, go straight to the hospital and get yourself checked.
After all, had I not gone to the hospital on my own initiative, I guess I wouldn't be writing this article at all. Instead, I'd be writing some lame excuse to the editor explaining my predicament and hoping she swallows the bad news better than I could swallow my medication.