LIKE many Malaysian senior citizens, rising costs in insurance premium and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals have forced me to turn to public hospitals for affordable treatment and medication.
As I suffer from diabetes I try, on a monthly basis, to visit the hospital in Kulim to ensure my sugar levels are in check and that my general health is okay.
Recently, I suffered from chronic neck pain that caused great discomfort that disrupted my sleep.
The attending medical officer on Nov 18 was a woman. Throughout my visit with her, I was repeatedly treated with abrasion, callousness and indifference. She refused to even acknowledge my presence.
All my queries were dismissed with a series of sighs and scoffs and she also avoided looking me in the face. She spoke to me as if I was an uneducated simpleton at the mercy of her “grace and wisdom”.
But far more egregious than her blatant rudeness – her bedside manner befitted that of a starving jungle cat – was her unwillingness to assist in alleviating my medical problems. She completely ignored my neck pain and failed to prescribe any medication whatsoever.
Further, my usual prescription for diabetes was negated in favour of a reduced one without any supplements. When I asked why, she aggressively reminded me that supplements were not medication. I was then promptly dismissed.
Having been treated without an ounce of human decency and respect, I left befuddled, humiliated and enraged.
I am not oblivious to the strains and pressures of working at public hospitals. I am sympathetic to the mass of patients they deal with every day, the overcrowded schedules, and the long thankless hours.
But such circumstances do not validate doctors and staff at public hospitals from treating us as mindless sheep, to be ridiculed, dismissed and scoffed at. Are these ideals that public hospitals should be exemplifying? Are the needs and wellbeing of the patient no longer paramount considerations?
While I have often been told that complaints lodged about public hospitals will fall on deaf ears, I sincerely hope the relevant authorities will look into the atrocious behaviour of this attending medical officer and take the necessary course of action to ensure that no one else is victimised and abused in such a manner.
And to this errant medical officer, though I may be a mere lay person with no formal medical training, I would like to refresh your memory, if I may, with regards to that most hallowed and sacred of oaths, the Hippocratic Oath: “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug”.
Where was your warmth, your sympathy and your understanding?