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The physician`s maze

Source: Dr. Kofi Dankyi Beeko, MD - the Author - Ghanaian Chronicle

In every profession, it is the practice that, if you happen to be senior, or let's say if you are blessed, (often times cursed) to be boss, you would be asked by subordinates to write a testimonial, or reference, if one intends sending it to North America.

I have personally queried the real use of such references, since most of the time, everybody, (or nearly everybody) writes a favorable one. Under German Corporate Law, it is forbidden to pen out an unfavorable reference, talked about at work places as, “ein Attest.” You are not obliged to write one, but if you dare write “a bad one”, you could see yourself having to appear before the law. Over the years, I have had the occasion to write such documents for an uncountable number of people that have sometime in their lives, and in mine, worked under me. I have had the need to request such documents for myself too.

The one I remember most was written for a gentleman that worked under me in a Middle East set-up. He was more fluent in Arabic, and Urduh, (the language spoken in some parts of India , but mostly in Pakistan ). It is very melodious to listen, and even though, frightening to try to learn, very easy indeed, for anybody to learn, if one should want to.

The writing, from right to left is like in Arabic, which makes it very easy for Pakistanis to be fluent in Arabic in no time at all. My very good subordinate in the narrative made work for me extremely easy, when it came to translating from Arabic to English, and vice versa, at bed-side.

The Rogets' II defines “maze” in the form of a noun as follows: something that is intricately, and often bewilderingly complex. The practice of medicine in some part of the world is a maze, as you soon would have to agree.

The middle-aged experienced male nurse one day requested that I write him a testimonial, and that he was resigning from the hospital we both worked in, and move back home, after spending twenty-five years in “somebody else's home.” Understandable!

Using word-perfect, I drafted, and corrected the document, which in normal font, filled a full Dina 4. Everyday, I looked at it, and changed some word, to make it look, and “sound” superlative. Nobody would be able to deny him a job, after the Reference, (my Reference).

I had in mind, Pablo Picasso, who said, “works of art are never finished, they are abandoned.” I regard everything I write as a piece of art, because, I can't paint. Six weeks after I had gotten it out of the computer, having come out in LASER-JET finish, he had a farewell party, and left, with the Reference among his proud possessions. For a couple of years later, he sent me a present from his hometown, through people, coming for the pilgrimage, or returning to base. One fine day, altogether five years after he had left, a letter he penned me as a friend and mentor was on a letter head that had him, as Dr. XYZ.

Apparently, in his country, the law allows you, after practicing as a nurse for three decades, at which time most nurses would be fifty or thereabouts, you could apply, and get a license, TO PRACTICE AS A DOCTOR. So, my protégé, who five years previously had obtained a reference from me as a nurse, had stepped up into the shoes of a doctor. He had become my contemporary, and no mistake!

He could indeed get into a Specialty, or sub-Specialty, by doing what the law would require, and/or allow, and just carry on. Not even the skies would be the limit, so to speak.

Well, if this saga would disturb you, there is an equally juicy one from Germany . The event that triggered the German version did take place at the German battle front against Soviet troops in the Ukraine , (1943) but the next field of action was at the Teaching Hospital of the Free Berlin University in the part of Berlin that was called, until the re-unification, West Berlin .

In his presence, the all-round trauma-surgeon, (you could call him Accident-Surgeon) was hit by a shrapnel, and died instantly, whilst they all watched on. The “smart young male theater-nurse”, could not explain to the criminal investigators twenty-five years later, how he came by the certificates of the famous surgeon, and the audacity with which he had been doing surgery one after the other, and with astounding success.

His ill-luck, came to roost, when one day, a patient he had operated upon was telling the villagers about his “Star Surgeon”, who had corrected his complicated “incisional hernia” resulting from wounds he had sustained in World War II, which many surgeons had tried, but failed to fix properly. It turned out that, the Surgeon, who is believed to have carried out the operation had died in the War.

The state had her hands full, protests came from all parts of the then Federal Republic of Germany , when it came to sending him to jail, for impersonation, and falsification of documents.

This kind of situation has been met before in the UK , in the USA , and the Middle East , where all sorts of people, with different kinds of intentions and motivations at one time converged. It would be impossible to transform verbal impressions into picturesque ones, so that you could share with me, a dark-skinned female, whose pigments had all been “peeled off” by the “special medicine” concocted by a French Dermatologist, (special from Chance Ely see), who, after investigations, never had entered medical school. He was practicing anyway. Fake documents abound these days, as indeed, they must have always abounded.

The law in America of all places, for example, requires that you check the authenticity of credentials of a man, or woman you employ. The institution that is believed to have issued the certificate “does not bear any liability.” There you are! It is not quite a year, when a countryman of ours, a Doctor supposedly, was detected by chance, ( as he tried to register), who had worked eighteen months in a Mission Hospital, as an American Trained Physician. He was also not the only one.

There is no way you would feel fine, when citizens, sometimes with serious illnesses, who have been “treated” by “Doctors”, languish in pain, and ignorance, until they may perish.

In a previous communication, the essence of the “Oath of Hippocrates” has been touched upon. Not everybody practicing as a Doctor has heard about it, and let alone goes by it. All of a sudden, there are too many people, who seem to have the “audacity”, but perhaps not the “ authority” to do so.

There is a terminology that I have coined, which I have not let loose in public, except in this article. When you hear of “Population Mortality”, it must confuse you, no matter what you do for a living. How you may come close to making anything out of it, is when you have heard of something called “Life-Expectancy”.

And that should make the African uncomfortable, because, he lives only half as long as his Japanese counterpart. Medical Science, which for the first time since five thousand years that it has been running, (as we know it), has raised life expectancy from under fifty for millennia to nearly one hundred.

It has passed the African by. It pays, to say, “African, South of the Sahara .” Taking care of the dead is so lucrative in our mist more than anywhere else in the world, except of course, in Iraq or Afghanistan .

In those places, death has been planted, artificially, because of a situation that half the world can justify, but the other half not. From diseases, we in Africa simply die too much. v Perhaps, incidents in which a National Medical and Dental Council revokes the License to practice from a GP after 35 years, (Daily Graphic, April 25, 2008), harsh as it might appear, would invoke in men and women of the healing profession, more scrutiny, in what they do. It is that way in other countries. Yes!