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Lack of professionalism in our medical sector

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In every business, customer care is one of the key factors in achieving success but sadly, customer care is not exactly one of our strongholds in Malawi.

Escom, water board, immigration department, road traffic services and our mobile network providers can bare naked evidence to the fact. But I would have thought there are exceptions to everything in life, especially in the business of life itself. I would have thought the profession of treating people whose bodies are not functioning at 100  percent would exercise some delicacy. I was convinced this would at least be an exception.

So it comes as an appalling surprise to me when I keep encountering a series of poor services when I seek medical attention from some hospitals in our dear country. For public hospitals, the excuse is they are under-funded and understaffed hence poor service being something that can be excused. Either way there is some professional courtesy that does not require resources and an overflowing wagon of staff.

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But, for arguments sake, let us just excuse the public hospitals anyway since they have a buck load of grievances.

The next question is, for private hospitals what is the excuse for giving customers poor services especially when payment is on the spot? I like it when I witness things with my own eyes and not only hear others lamenting about experiences they meet when they seek medical attention. So I will briefly breakdown a few incidences I have come across over time that have made me question the quality of medical care we are getting in this country.

Etiquette around the hospital

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It turns out hospitals have turned into chatter rooms for staff who don’t care about chatting about loudly with patients waiting around. Sometimes this happens in the process of treatment; they chat on like a bees buzzing while patients groan about in pain. This other guy taking a blood sample from me had the audacity to even leave the lab door open while attending to me so that he could continue chatting loudly with the boys working in the other room. I had to get up and close the door.

He didn’t even apologise.

Misdiagnosis

When a hospital messes with your treatment more than once, it’s time to stop visiting that hospital regardless of how many people find it “convenient” because of its speed in attending patients. There was an incident where this hospital gave me medication I was allergic to without fore-warning me to look out for adverse side effects of this particular medication. From what I gathered from other medical professionals, this particular medication has a tendency of causing adverse reactions in patients more often than not.

So when I developed some additional symptoms, I had no idea that the medication I was still taking was the cause of the continued symptoms. It was only days later when I ended up back at the hospital that the doctor told me I should have come “sooner” because I had an allergic reaction to the medication.

And there I thought, how was I to know? Why are patients not counseled thoroughly about medications they are taking?

Few months later, back at the same hospital, I was misdiagnosed, given medication and nothing changed. Since I remembered that the ‘doctor did not take time to look into my history let alone examine the part I said was in pain, I was convinced I wasn’t properly treated. Days later I went to a different hospital where I received proper examination and treatment and saw improvement within the day.

Negligence

I was literally perplexed when I went to a “reputable” clinic in Blantyre and was treated in what I would call utter chaos.

When I first got there I went to the consultation room and was attended to by a ‘doctor’ who requested for a lab test.

When I came back with my lab results I found the room empty, I enquired by the reception and went back to wait. A few minutes later another ‘doctor ’ came in, looked at my results then started asking why I came to the hospital. I simply asked why I am explaining something I already explained and where the person who first saw me was? Then he conveniently acted surprised that someone has already seen me. I wondered how he expected me to have lab results if that wasn’t the case.

Next thing the guy who initially attended to me comes in and the other guy hustled out and carelessly told the initial guy to “finish what he started” (malizanani ndi munthu wanuyi to be precise). The initial guy hastily gave me treatment and failed to comprehensively explain to me what his diagnosis was. I had to keep asking questions that received no satisfactory responses. This was all without any “examination” and request for medical history.

I thought this was the height of unprofessionalism and mediocrity. And this was done in an environment where people’s lives are at play. Where are our standards? Where is our integrity? I am sure the people who treat patients with carelessness will be  absolutely chagrined if they were treated in the same manner at a time of pain and malaise let alone any time!

Seriously, people’s lives are not to be messed with. The medical profession needs to improve and take heed of people’s complaints. I rest my case!

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