Patients Don’t Want Exhausted Doctors

Before you read what I have to say, you should read Dr Nikki Stamp’s post: How tired is too tired?

One day, I’d like to have a study to prove the post title. But for now, we’ll have to settle for another anecdote:

tired doctor Continue reading “Patients Don’t Want Exhausted Doctors”

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Sometimes I Don’t Want To Know

a4c50964f550a70443d53e51fe887a82I didn’t want to know that the man with the compound skull fracture had fallen into a sewer drain while being chased by the police because he was the man that had been scamming poor people out of their grant money for months.

I didn’t want to know that the man with the gangrenous arm had been bitten two weeks ago, by a girl he was trying to rape.

I understand the importance of a good clinical history. But right now, while I’m saving their lives, can I not simply know that he fell in a ditch? Or that he suffered a human bite?

I don’t want to know WHY these things happened to them. Not right now in any case. Tell me later, when they have pulled through the worst. Tell me then, if you must.

Is this wrong? Continue reading “Sometimes I Don’t Want To Know”

Dear Graduates: You Should Be Supporting #FeesMustFall

Dear Graduates of South Africa

Perhaps, like me, you shook your head when you first saw the hashtag #FeesMustFall. You empathised with the expense of tertiary education, but you had lives to save or exams to mark or bridges to build and you thought, “Why do young people in this country want to make everything FALL?”

Continue reading “Dear Graduates: You Should Be Supporting #FeesMustFall”

Another Disability Grant Request

“Uyagoduka namhlanje!” I say with the biggest smile. You can go home today! It’s one of my favourite things to tell patients. Sometimes I think it’s the only time they ever like me.

And she does smile. The physiotherapist discharged her day one post-op and she wanted to go home so badly, but I felt day one was a bit soon. What can I say: I’m an intern, I’m too careful.

Then she asks, “So what thing did you put in my leg?”

She injured herself playing contact sports and sustained a mean distal femur fracture. I tell her the basics: we put some hardware in her leg to keep the bone together.

And her neighbour, a middle-aged woman, says, “So that means she can get a disability grant.”

Copyright Faheema Patel 2010, “Human Inside” | Click image for link.

NO. Continue reading “Another Disability Grant Request”

Land of the Disability Grant

Despite my love of clinic days, Orthopaedic Clinic Days are proving extremely demotivating.

On a clinic day we see more than 200 patients. We are an extremely stretched department but we try extremely hard to keep our patients functional. By far the majority of South Africans are reliant on their hands and feet for their daily work, and so it is important that we preserve their ability to make a living. And we make a massive effort to do so.

Susan Dorothea White, "Right Hand" 2010
Susan Dorothea White, “Right Hand” 2010

And yet on clinic days every second patient tells me that they want a Disability Grant. A measly grant that brings 1,1 million South Africans at the most ZAR1,400 (USD112) per month. Hardly a worthy income. Continue reading “Land of the Disability Grant”

Should Doctors Be Allowed To Nap On The Job? (Response)

During an off time on call last night (I’m on anaesthesiology now, which means I have time to breathe on calls) I read this article on BBC. And wow, did it rub me up the wrong way.

Basically, a patient in Mexico snapped a picture of a young doctor who fell asleep during her shift, and people mouthed off about it on the internet.

docs not sleep Continue reading “Should Doctors Be Allowed To Nap On The Job? (Response)”

Paired Reading: Refugees and Displaced Persons in Africa

While on holiday in Zambia I read two absolutely breathtaking books. I bought both of these books myself and was not asked to review them, but I feel the need to share them with everyone.

A prelude: The number of displaced persons in Africa is huge. We have many refugees and many internally displaced persons and in South Africa, the supposed land of milk and honey, many foreigners have been victims of xenophobia. This year especially has seen flares in violence against persons perceived to be foreigners There are a lot of politics underlying the whole story, and it’s not something I necessarily understand well enough to explain in simple terms, but it is tangible in this land.

Abandoned Somali shop, Makause, East Rand. By Richard Poplak. Click for link.
Abandoned Somali shop, Makause, East Rand. By Richard Poplak. Click for link.

Continue reading “Paired Reading: Refugees and Displaced Persons in Africa”

A Story of a Statue

It’s a pretty bad time to be a statue in South Africa. If you’re not from here, a quick run-through: at the University of Cape Town, students have successfully petitioned (to put it mildly) the University Council to remove a statue of Cecil John Rhodes on their campus. Not long after that, a statue of Paul Kruger was vandalised, as well as a memorial for the animals that served and died in the Second South African War.

Click image for reference.

I haven’t really said much about the saga because I can understand, to some extent, the people on all sides of the argument. I did not attend UCT and I feel no particular loyalty to Rhodes. I don’t feel particular affinity for Kruger, either. And animals are awesome, but the real reason I feel strongly about statues being vandalised is because I believe in history. Continue reading “A Story of a Statue”

The Passion Deception: Why Passion Is Not Enough

I had the pleasure of visiting my old high school recently to talk to some of the Matrics about life, their final year of school and their future plans in general. I spoke at length about what I call the Passion Deception. It sounds like a bit of a downer but to be honest, it’s real talk and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

passion deception

I feel like many talented youngsters have a pressing desire to do a job that makes them “tick”, and they are taught (myself included) from a young age that the profession you choose should be one you feel passionate about. I can understand why we tell people that too: talented youngsters can often do anything they want to, so “passion” becomes a good indicator of what to leave and what to dive into. Continue reading “The Passion Deception: Why Passion Is Not Enough”

Does New Data on Patient Confidentiality Change Anything?

The recent NPR-Truven Health Analytics Poll data illuminated some interesting data. In this poll, 3,000 Americans were interviewed about their concerns (or lack thereof) regarding their health records.

worries-about-health-records-by-location_custom-3bbb3a48b149d38b528a203d5bbf4d564c9a8fad-s400-c85Surprisingly, by the responses it seems at first glance that American patients are not all that concerned about the confidentiality of their health records. As per the executive summary, “16 percent of respondents have privacy concerns regarding health records held by their health insurer. 14 percent have concerns about records held by their hospital, 11 percent with records held by their physician, and 10 percent with records held by their employer.” Continue reading “Does New Data on Patient Confidentiality Change Anything?”