Ward boy as surgeon, bad; Surgeon with a degree thru quota, worse

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Rajesh Kalra
11 July 2012, 12:44 PM IST

There is justifiable outrage in the country over a video that shows cleaners (authorities say ward boys) in a hospital in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh conducting surgery, giving injections and stitching wounds. It seems implausible that hospitals would allow poor patients’ lives to be played around with and worse, those responsible for all of it, the political masters, justifying it. Even for a nation where people have almost zero confidence in government run medical facilities, for they know of the horror stories that abound, this has come as a shocker.

While the media is in an overdrive, as it should be, I wonder if this is the only reason we have to be shocked at the state of our medical facilities and all else. Wherever you look, there is chaos. Private hospitals that fleece with the sole motive of profiteering (and the government policies that seem to encourage it wholeheartedly), doctors getting degrees from institutions through dubious means, those who get degrees through some sort of a quota, or those who got admission in a medical institution, and perhaps the degree too solely based on their ability to pay capitation fee.
While all of the reasons above contribute towards a growing sense of unease and mistrust in the medical fraternity as a whole, I would honestly not rate them any less heinous than the latest incident of the cleaners performing surgery. Would you, for example, be comfortable with a surgeon who would have otherwise failed his exam but got through simply because he came through a quota system that allows him a degree even if he obtains lower marks? In some, rather most, of the surgical procedures, it is either 100 per cent or nothing. How can a person who never got more than a low pass percentage ever be trusted with a surgery? It may not seem as bad as a cleaner doing a surgery, but would I still have the confidence of going under the scalpel if this guy were to operate upon me? Ditto for a person who did not have the calibre to be a doctor or a surgeon, but had the financial muscle to get admission and then even get a degree.
Most of us wouldn’t dare. Needless to add, all those who make these policy decisions to allow doctors under a quota system etc. and not on merit are the first ones to scoot out of the country for any treatment.
It has been debated ad-nauseam that while affirmative action is necessary to bring up the stock of backward and under-represented, it cannot be in areas where what they do actually impacts human lives. Doctors are surely in that category, and so are airline pilots. But the all pervasive ‘chalta hai’ attitude, coupled with the sickeing vote-bank politics rides roughshod over all else, and its only getting worse.
If anything, I actually find the explanation of the UP politician who says these ‘ward boys’ knew what they were doing for they have seen and helped doctors with these things and that they were doing all this under their supervision, more honest than a lot of other reasons that are bandied about for justifying nonsense all around.
These ward boys were doing what para medics do all over the world, including in India such as giving injections, preparing a patient for surgery, helping with equipment during surgeries. These are skills one normally gets through short courses. And one may not like it, but the fact is no amount of courses can replicate the experience these boys perhaps may have received in real life situation. It is the difference between theory and practical.
Please understand, this is in no way condoning what happened in the Bulandshahr hospital. What happened there is terrible, but I would genuinely urge the policy makers to look at the larger picture. Give more people theoretical and practical paramedic training and for God’s sake, take out any quota, capitation fee system etc from aspects that affect human lives directly.

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via Times of India Blogs http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/randomaccess/entry/ward-boy-as-surgeon-bad-surgeon-with-a-degree-thru-quota-worse

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