‘Shouting doctor’ incident reflects what is wrong in medical service

I refer to your column on a video that shows a doctor losing his temper with a patient over some prescribed medicine.

I do agree that it’s not a simple doctor-patient incident but reflects a deeper underlying systemic problem in our primary healthcare service provisions.

The series of events leading to the unfortunate outcome seems to be contributed by multiple factors.

These include overcrowding of patients, leading to stressful situations for doctors and all supporting staff.

Imagine seeing 70 to 100 patients per day, sometimes in very crowded rooms with a multitude of health complaints to be sorted out. These situations need concentration, focus and, in times of need, de-escalation skills.

Communication barriers between pharmacists and doctors need to be sorted out and standard operating procedures that are patient-friendly put in place and enforced when problems or queries arise.

The public needs to be aware of the immense challenges that the system is facing. Some patience and understanding go a long way towards alleviating what is already a breakpoint system.

Above all, the public can keep a healthy lifestyle, decreasing the need to crowd government primary care centres.

It’s also common for many patients to visit both private and government clinics for the same problem or complaint. This utilises the already scarce and limited resources in government clinics and decreases availability for those patients who are unable to afford treatment at private clinics.

To avoid these unfortunate incidents, we need to make more doctors available and give more training on medical knowledge, soft skills and de-escalation skills in times of crisis.

We need to have a revamp of communication channels in busy clinics as well as better and more efficient patient management procedures. We need more clinics and health centres available and longer opening hours.

We need a health-conscious public, well informed on heath education and practising a healthy lifestyle, decongesting the need to frequently attend clinics.

We need to invest more in our own health and our healthcare system.

The RM1 registration system at hospitals is at the breaking point.

High-quality healthcare costs money and all of us as individuals must be willing to invest more to achieve the results we envision.

This shouting doctor incident in Negeri Sembilan is just a symptom of the wider systemic problems afflicting our primary healthcare services.

Ultimately, we must be more empathetic to one another, magnanimous as Malaysians and together help each other to make the system better.

Let’s stop this “me syndrome” and instead ask: “What can I do to help others?”

After all, the significance of one’s life is not that we had lived but what difference we had made to the lives of others. That is what counts.

Dr John Teo is an FMT reader.

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.