Doctors are humans, too

Simply because throughout a person's life he will always require the services of a doctor, the medical profession is glorified and sanctified like no other and its practitioners are held to a higher level of probity (Making it harder for errant doctors to cheat; Oct 25).

In truth, doctors are just humans trained in the art of healing, possessing no inherent superiority of moral fibre, and are driven by monetary gain or fame as much as by their primary intention of providing salve and relief for the sick.

They can be as weak of spirit and lacking in scruples as any other morally bankrupt individual bent on cheating, and often are.

Cynically, what keeps some doctors on the straight and narrow are an imposed stringent code of conduct, constant vigilance for malpractice by a legislated medical council and a prescribed schedule of fees which unfortunately, is now defunct.

Constant and regular audits will help sort out clinics which have made unguarded claims, while the application of algorithms by the overseeing authorities should also be able to pinpoint unusual or manifestly large claims.

It also behoves the patient to do due diligence in choosing his doctor.

Yes, patients should trust doctors but when in doubt, patients owe themselves an all important duty to seek a second opinion. It is their best self-defence.

Patients should also be wary of doctors who are disdainful of them broaching difficult questions or who are dismissive of their queries, as with doctors who seem concerned by asking all the right questions but do not bother much with patients' replies.

Patients' suspicions should be aroused when doctors order batteries of tests for what are seemingly minor problems.

As for the practice of polypharmacy, be wary - every trivial condition prescribed an expensive pill is a likely exercise to pad the bill.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2018, with the headline 'Doctors are humans, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe