Doctors like to give one another the benefit of doubt

Doctors reluctant to testify against their fellow colleagues are not to blame for the Singapore Medical Council's (SMC's) inability to act adroitly and incisively (Hard to get experts to testify, says SMC; Nov 1).

The medical community in Singapore is not a huge, faceless and impersonal one.

Doctors interact on a daily basis and as practitioners, know full well their professional actions are subject to human frailty despite years of training and daily vigilance against missteps.

We like to give one another the benefit of the doubt, especially when senior doctors with a pristine reputation honed through years of dedicated service are subjected to an SMC inquiry.

The truth is that many times doctors are struck by complaints out of the blue and these may come not from the most complicated medical cases nor from the most irascible and demanding of patients, and emerge months and even years after the event when memory of the event has faded.

It happens often enough to make us think that this is just an occupational hazard and reflects little on doctors' introspection or lack thereof.

Is it a wonder that since the entire fraternity lives under a glass dome with an albatross around its neck, few are reluctant to cast the first stone?

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2017, with the headline 'Doctors like to give one another the benefit of doubt'. Print Edition | Subscribe