HANDS THAT HEAL SHOULDN’T BLEED

COVID-19: AN EXPLOSIVE FUEL TO A RAGING FIRE

COVID-19 has brought fear, uncertainty and anxiety among people in an unprecedented fashion. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) around the world work tirelessly to serve humanity, all the while battling with these emotions. It is, therefore, truly disheartening when one learns about incidents of abuse and ostracism against HCPs, as the problem of violence against doctors in India is increasing steadily. Despite many reactionary measures like enhanced security to doctors at the workplace and stricter medical negligence laws, Indian doctors are teetering on the brink of a major silent crisis, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which is detrimental for the growth of the society in the coming times.

 

FIERY RECIPE FOR DISASTER

Dissatisfied patients and their agitated friends and relatives, impaired doctor–patient relationship, an ever hungry media and the medical community’s negative image created by misleading journalism are the usual perpetrators for violence against doctors. However, the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19 pandemic and the misinformed suspicion of doctors being vectors of transmission were the root cause for these recent catastrophes. These events put the medical community in a state of fear and regret for choosing a career when the society does not support them. A majority of doctors are now unwilling to motivate their children to pursue this profession, once revered by the society not too long ago.

PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS OF THE ‘ABUSIVE’ KIND

In March 2020, a nationwide lockdown was enforced in India, creating panic and uncertainty among patients, their kin and the general public. Many housing-property owners asked their tenanting doctors working in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, the premier institute of national importance in India, to vacate their houses. In a personal incident, one of the authors experienced shock, when he went shopping for groceries. The shop owner had an apathetic look on seeing his vehicle’s hospital logo and asked him not to enter his shop. When he accidentally touched a stack of egg crates kept outside the shop, the owner got infuriated and ordered him to buy all the eggs, and asked him to never visit the shop again. Two female doctors in our hospital were beaten by a fruit seller after knowing they were doctors. A doctor in Chennai who had died due to COVID-19 was denied burial at two different cemeteries while his colleagues and family members were attacked by a mob. This inhumane act made the Indian government to effectuate an emergency ordinance for frontline corona workers under which any person attacking a health worker involved in treating COVID-19 can be jailed for up to 7 years. Since then, no such events were reported in the next 1 month, perhaps signifying a change in perception and behaviour. But alas, the relief was short lived. In June 2020, a doctor at Hyderabad’s coronavirus facility was assaulted by relatives of a patient who had died at the hospital. More than 300 postgraduate doctors treating patients with COVID-19 went on strike for 2 days, demanding protection and justice for this spate of violence but are yet to receive justice.In July 2020, a senior doctor was assaulted and stabbed by the deceased patient’s relative in Mumbai.

UNEASY ROAD TO CHANGE

Reactionary measures to an event of violence are unlikely to boost the flagging morale of the medical workforce or represent sustainable solutions. The change must come from ‘within’—within the people, in their perception towards doctors. To tide over this crisis, government agencies must work in tandem with the public; to abate their fears, to make them realise the criminal nature of vandalism and violence in a hospital, and the disgraceful and ungratifying marrow of ostracism. Also, for doctors to work fearlessly with devotion and dedication during COVID, there is a desperate need to rekindle the trust that patients and the society place in their doctors. Last, but not least, people should realise that hospitals are centres of healing and recuperation, and that doctors are integral to the health and well-being of the society.

Essential Medical Check-ups

We’ve always been told that health is wealth. Even then we forget to take care of bodies the way it deserves. We delay doctor’s appointments and eat whatever pleases not only our taste buds but also our eyes. We ignore the harmful effects it can have on our body. This ignorance does not pay off well as we grow old. 

When we reach a certain age, doctors advice everyone to undergo some health check-ups according to different age groups at regular intervals. 

They help in the early detection and treatment of diseases if any. Some of these tests are given below for your convenience and awareness. They may depend on the age group you fall in.

  1. Weigh yourself:

Knowing your body weight is very important. You should not be more than the required body weight nor less. You might hate getting on the scale but it is a must. You don’t need to visit a doctor for this and it can be done at home.

  1. Blood Test:

A blood test will reveal several things about your body. You may fear a needle but a blood test will only benefit you. It is not very expensive and very quick. It will help you keep a track of your haemoglobin levels, RBCs, WBCs and will also tell you if you have any blood-related issues. 

  1. Cholesterol profile:

Now you will need to go through the painful process of withdrawing blood but keeping a cholesterol check is very important. According to physicians, screening once for the age group of 9-11 years, once between the age of 17-21 years and every 4-6 years after that. If you have a family history of cholesterol or suffer from obesity, cholesterol tests become even more essential.

  1. Pap and Pelvic Exam for women:

Pap smears, pelvic exam and breast examination are very important for women after the age of 21 years. They might cause discomfort but help in detecting cancer cells and diseases that may result in infertility. Pap tests should begin at the age of 21 years and should be done every 3 years till the age of 65 years. Women who have normal results of the pap test can get the test done every five years after the age of 30. Women who are sexually active and are under 24 years and below should also get gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HIV screening. Women at average risk of breast cancer should get a clinical test every 1-3 years if they fall under the age group of 25-39 years. If they are 40 and above they should get it done every year. 

  1. Eye test:

You might not have expected this test on the list and think that you only need to get an eye test when your vision becomes blurry. But no, eye test not only involves tests for eyesight but other eye-related problems as well. So it is recommended that before turning 40 you visit an eye doctor and get a detailed eye test once. If you have vision problems, you should go more often. 

  1. Blood Sugar Test:

Usually, this test is recommended for people who are in their 30s. This test is done after 12 hours of fasting and helps in detecting diabetes. If your test results are <90, your sugar levels are normal. If the results say 100-110, it is pre-diabetes. But if the test is more than 110, the person is suffering from diabetes. If your reading is normal you can get the test done once in a year.

  1. ECG test: 

This test is recommended for people who are 35 years and above. It is done to check if there are any heart diseases. It is advisable to get it done annually if the results are normal.

  1. Immunizations: 

Make sure to visit your doctor and see if you need any immunizations. This can be done annually. Ask your doctor to update you regularly about the same. 

All the above-mentioned tests are to give you a general idea about the tests that are essential to keep your health in check. This article is research-based and for more accurate information you should always visit a doctor.

Consulting Doctor Google

According to Wiktionary, Dr. Google is a term when the Internet is used to seek out medical advice. Most of the time when we are feeling under the weather, how often do we land up going through the Internet, trying to Google our symptoms rather than going to an actual doctor?

More often this self-diagnosis through the Internet turns out to be scarier than it should be. For instance, your search for a simple headache you’ve been having, and Dr. Google will point you towards several scary diagnoses like a tumor, aneurysm, or a brain bleed. Simple fatigue can be self-diagnosed as underlying cancer. Self-diagnosing your symptoms using Google can sometimes mask a potentially dangerous disease. So, apart from the inaccurate diagnosis given by several medical websites on the internet, what is worse is the risk of mistreating a potentially dangerous disease.

There is an actual term “Cyberchondria” which refers to a person’s anxiety about their health that is created or exacerbated by using the internet to search for medical information. You just look for any symptom online and it is definitely linked with some form of tumor or cancer, and then psychology comes in play and it can make you feel sicker than you are, which feeds your anxiety.

One thing that we should realize is that Internet is a free space where anyone can post anything, there is no credibility of most of the content being posted so even if you think that it’s just a simple rash and you can get medication through Dr. Google think twice because a real doctor goes through rigorous years of study and only then they are qualified enough to examine you.

The bottom line is that you can not replace a professional medical help with Google search, by doing so you are just putting yourself at risk.