After years of deciphering abstruse medicine for our benefit, doctors internships are horrendous.
They may work up to 48 hour shifts, often collapsing on an available bed for 15 minutes, and then hearing: "Dr A, Dr A, please report to theatre for an emergency."
Lack of sleep may make you miserable. It may even kill you. Hell, I'd confuse a C-section with a tonsillectomy under those conditions, never mind misreading a chart.
During my brother's internship at Groote Schuur Hospital he was on the verge of quitting, but didn't. Imagine if every intern decided to throw in the towel?
After completing their internship, doctors may decide to open a private practice or enter into a partnership. For the uninformed they are opening a business. These doctors may have crippling student debts, need a massive set-up loan for state of the art equipment and pay professional salaries for professional staff. And, they haven't seen a patient yet.
Doctors also need to purchase a car. If this is a skedonk, patients assume that they are not very successful. If a BMW, patients are then being ripped off. Either way is a no-win situation.
Doctors also need to continue with their studies and attend conferences. This is very expensive.
Do you have an idea what surgical equipment may cost? I don't either but am sure it doesn't come cheap. We expect to be healed in modern, comfortable up-to-date surgeries.
If we don't pay for this, then who will?
Even in private practice, doctors and specialists work for little or no remuneration at state hospitals and are often on call to operate at midnight. Then do ward rounds the following morning for Moaning Minnies, with the never-ending: "Doctor, will I be okay?" after having had an ingrown toenail removed. Geez, give the doctors some credit. They did their best.
At social gatherings or on holidays, which means 'doctors time off,' a dipstick will approach them with: "I hear you are a doctor. What would you recommend for my piles?"
If the good doctors say: "Please make an appointment for an examination," this dipstick will grumble with a: "I only wanted some advice."
Do you work for free?
Patients who self-diagnose from a Google search or answer a doctor with: "I don't know what's wrong with me. I just feel ill," and the symptoms are easy to diagnose, they mutter: "I was only in there for five minutes and now I have to pay the full consultation fee," or, "I don't even know what he is prescribing. I can't read his handwriting."
Don't worry, the pharmacist will be able to.
Patients also complain about having to wait for two hours. This is not the doctors fault. Patients make an 'I have a nagging cough' appointment and then saunter in with their mother, teenager and baby for a 40 minute question and answer session to obtain the maximum benefit.
They also put the doctors health at risk by coughing all over them.
My brother nearly went into cardiac arrest when a plumber presented him with an invoice. His bad luck continued with an invoice from an electrician. This left him wondering if he had chosen the wrong profession.
Medical Aid. This is just what it is. An aid towards your medical expenses not a fully paid-up investment policy with compounded interest.
Medical Aid Companies take from three months to settle doctors accounts. The 30 day policy does not apply here, unlike yours if you have a business or you demand immediate payment, as a plumber or electrician would.
And, the shortfall due by the patients? This may or may not be paid. If the same patients return, it is unlikely the altruistic doctor will turn them away.
An afterthought. Do divorce lawyers overcharge?
Now, that's something entirely different.
This will be the topic of my next article.
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