No single heroes in healthcare

Unlike what we see on TV, there is never a single hero in any healthcare system.

To achieve a good patient outcome, a whole healthcare ecosystem is required.

Take the case of a successful surgery for liver cancer.

The family physician has to do cancer screening for at-risk patients to diagnose early liver cancer.

The hepatologist has to make the right diagnosis about the cancer, and chose the best treatment option based on the degree of liver damage.

The radiologist has to read the CT scan accurately.

The liver surgeon and anaesthetist have to ensure the surgery goes well.

The ward nurses and therapists have to ensure the patient's recovery is smooth and prompt.

The Ministry of Health has to set up a system to ensure every member of the team functions well.

Whether (medical residents) are arranging for operating time, taking blood, setting intravenous plugs or reviewing patients daily, it will be an important component of the whole chain of medical care.

Medical residents ought to understand this reality (Young doctors here feeling burnt-out, says study; Nov 20).

Their personal aim should be to complete what they are entasked to do.

Whether they are arranging for operating time, taking blood, setting intravenous plugs or reviewing patients daily, it will be an important component of the whole chain of medical care.

Every single healthcare worker has to work hard on their part to ensure a good outcome. But not a single doctor can claim full credit for it.

Desmond Wai (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'No single heroes in healthcare'. Print Edition | Subscribe