Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Striking the Medical Ethic

Ran across this video on YouTube... And instead of making up a thousand reasons why I should link to it, it kind of brought up the whole issue of medical ethics. Our friend, Ali, goes on about cloning, euthanasia and plastic surgery - with his own unique brand of "bedside manner". He leaves out one of the most important issues though, one that people don't really think about.

Do doctors strike? Can they?

A couple of months ago, a whole bunch of Zim doctors went on strike - evidently $57 million a month was just not enough. It seems they had to bring their own scalpals to work, which cost $58 million. Ah, what can you do? Seriously though. Good on them. And better on them for sitting in the hospital pub for all but the most critical of patients!

Do our hospitals even have pubs? A quick search revealed basically nothing. The closest we get is a pub 226m underground in a mine shaft in Gold Reef City. That shaft, used to have a hospital.

I digress.

Medical ethics is such a broad blanket protection for everyone we treat - it pretty much prevents us from striking. We're not like lawyers (they don't strike because they can't bill for it) or Pick 'n Pay workers (How hard can it be? Ya Pick. Ya Pay). But we do seem to care.

You can't save a patient if you're on strike. And let's face it, people just don't not get sick.

So, even when this country subjects Interns to more than 90 hours a week (go look up the Basic Conditions of Employment if that doesn't sound like a lot), mediocre pay and such horrific working conditions that the tea room is usually the source of the infection... We still don't strike.

In fact, the most simple task of trying to get a bunch of doctors together to fight with SAMA against the government is nigh impossible. We're too busy caring about others, to fight for ourselves.

What's with that?


Anonymous said...

Someone raised this issue with me recently, and I am still confused:

When someone is seriously injured & goes to a private clinic, but then is denied medical treatment because of not having medical aid.

Financially it would be impossible to treat all these cases in this country, but ethically & with the H.Oath, aren't doctors obligated to treat these people?


Andy Hadfield said...

Interesting. I suppose that's because it's a "private" hospital. Essentially run like a company - where the overheads of better equipment, hygiene, facilities, DSTV add overhead which has to be recouped. They'll usually "turf" you to a gov hospital.

Ethically, I don't think it even gets NEAR the doctors. I reckon they get bounced at the door. Big Sister with a rolling pin. In a Government hospital, it's a whole different kettle of fish...

Btw, H.Oath doesn't exist in this country. Our doctors are sworn in on blind faith alone!

SA Doc said...

Nicks - you've got a point actually - all doctors and health facilities have an obligation to treat people... What happens in private is that if YOU can't pay for the service - THEY are obliged to stabilise you and send you on. (in other words, save you from dying and THEN turf you)

If you're not dying and have no money... then the government hospital is thatta way!

When you talk about financially impossible, you are theoretically right. The government budgets run out every year around october... but that doesn't shut the hospital doors, so come rain or shine, open beds or not, everyone will get treated at the government gig.

(PS and we do swear and oath - just not the Hypocratic Oath - that things a bit dated now. If we swore that, we pretty much couldn't operate on anyone. Look at it as a kind of hyprocratic reformation. The Oath 2.0!)

Ann Y. said...

Cous.... I'm cracked up. It's been a while since I saw Ali G. and no one this side of the Atlantic even knows who he is. Nice touch. It's all been a stimulating read before bed... makes me dream of NOT ever wanting to be a doctor.

Karen Little said...

Doctors do go on strike in this country as well - I've seen it a few times. It happens when they've been working say, 200 hours overtime a month for the last six months, and haven't been paid for more than 80 hours in one of those months, they strike by refusing to work more than 80 hours overtime until they get paid what they're owed. I've seen it in hospitals in Mpumalanga and Gauteng, is done with superindendant support, and results in patients being referred to other hospitals that have doctors available after hours.