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The Conflicts In Medicine

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The very nature of medicine and life that it deals with...having no duplicate, compels the doctor to "love his neighbor more than himself" as he "consecrates his life to the service of humanity". He is expected to put life first especially in patients who present in emergencies.

But even the Holy Bible admonishes us to love our neighbours "as" ourselves, not more "than" ourselves....lending solid credence to the fact that even the authors of the Holy Book were more realistic than the latter scipters of medical ethics!

Yet the general society....or its justice system....makes no pretences to brook any sympathy for the doctor as it closes its eyes to the fact that this conflict is not the making of the doctor. It appears totally unconcerned that its doctors are called upon to deal with these conflicts on a daily basis.

The society even descends to such base level as to prefer sentiment when it suits its whim but briskly reverts to cold business when the doctor errs....reminding him of "duty of care" as it takes legal steps against him like any other sundry breach of contract. The readiness of society to so vaccilate leaves no doubt about the role sheer selfishness plays in these matters.

How does the doctor deal with the double-speak of a society which asks doctors to always ensure they are paid for services ...when not directly affected as patients or relations.... but say the opposite when they are so involved? How about spouses who are eager to identify with the glory or nobility of medicine in their husbands but readily buckle at the knees at the sheer realisation of the penury assured in practising medicine the way of Hippocrates? Why so eager to identify with the glamour but not the burden? Emotions aside, who pays the doctor's bills?

This reality is even more glaring if the doctor is of the male gender...expected to cater for his family. Such expectations are as much societal as they are statutory. The law and the society at large expects married men to cater for their wives and children. Such husbandly and fatherly duties must be performed lest the man is viewed as being irresponsible!

It is instructive that the same society.... and the same legal system requires the male doctor to answer "yes and no" to a situation deserving of a single answer! For the primal resposibilities of the male doctor to both family and patient are clearly recognised...and emphasized in law!

Each time I am moved to write on this conflict of professional and societal expectations required of the medical doctor....and the sheer reality of meeting his financial responsibilities, some respondents are so thoughtless as to laugh at me....calling my imputations funny! Hmmm... Persons of limited powers of introspection and minuscule intellect....

And herein lies the heavy burden placed on the male doctor...for there appears not to be any satisfactory answer to this riddle of life and death...

For the doctor cannot abandon his patient. In the same vein, he cannot leave his family to hunger for reasons of primal duty to patient!

Yet as doctors abandon family and friends as we live up to "consecration of life to humanity", we cannot possibly run back to the same family which feels abandoned...and the same friends which feel snubbed...after medicine has done us a financial blow....

Dr Tosin Akindele is a medical practitioner and public affairs analyst.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Tosin Akindele and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Tosin Akindele