ONE of the popular games among children is “Doctor Help!” This game entails the children to hold hands in a circle and tangle their hands and legs with one another, and their “doctor” would try to disentangle the knot of hands and legs of the other children. The catch was, the doctor must successfully disentangle the other kids without them letting go of each other’s hands. Failure to do so or if time runs out, the “doctor” loses.
A simple enough game for kids to play, but sometimes, real life patients call out for a doctor to help them, but they end up in a sometimes worse knot than they were initially.
Medical malpractice refers to professional negligence by a health care professional or provider in which treatment provided was substandard, and caused harm, injury or death to a patient.
One example of this could be the case of Mari Flor Dollaga. Dollaga underwent spine surgery in due to a nerve impinged in a bulging intervertebral disc causing her immense pain and incapable of walking. She was promised that after her surgery, there would be zero pain, and she would regain her ability to walk.
Like any other patient, she trusted her doctor with her condition and held on to the promise that after the surgery, she would be able to go back to her regular life.
Unfortunately for Dollaga, she spent the next six months after her surgery still unable to walk, and was still under pain. She complained to her doctor, saying that the surgery had failed. Instead of assuring her that she would be fine, he instead said that she had post-traumatic anxiety which was causing her to think and feel that the surgery did not work.
Only after seeking out other doctors for a second opinion was it discovered that there was a post-operative complication.
“She (Dollaga) was experiencing a “foot drop.” A foot drop is when the nerve supplying the affected foot was surgically compromised.” Doctor Delmar Agawin, an orthopedic doctor who examined Dollaga, said.
Suffice to say, despite being answered by a doctor, Dollaga cried a bigger help because of her own doctor.
Another example would be “Mary,” not her real name, was a 47-year-old primigravid or a first time mother. She was feeling the first few symptoms of labor, so she and her husband went to the hospital, assuming they were to welcome their first born. Upon reaching the hospital, she and her baby were examined and she was advised that she was not due yet and her baby was normal. So, she was asked to come back in a week.
After a week, she realized that she no longer felt her baby kicking inside of her.
After being checked by the doctor, they found that her baby no longer had a heartbeat.
It is disheartening for anyone to realize that a single mistake can change the lives of the people around them. Doctors are there to help people live as long as they are able, and it is a sad reality that situations like these arise.
Doctor Mari Pearl Agawin, however, speaks for the doctors who answer those calls for help without any damage to their patient.
“As a mother, I would have reacted negatively against this case. But, as a doctor, as an OB Gynaecologist, I also have to speak up for those in our field, for the doctors who strive hard to keep their patients out of harm’s way,” Dr. Agawin said.
People must also know that everything a doctor does, he or she makes sure that the benefits always outweigh the risks. They do not take the lives of their patients lightly, especially when they are responsible for it at the end of the day. But people must understand that there are risks in medical situations. There is no situation wherein there are no risks, it is only a matter of making choices wherein the outcome becomes a benefit.
Medical malpractice is a serious offense that needs to be analyzed thoroughly before passing judgment, both by the doctor, patient and other people involved. This is important especially for those who are unsure of their illness or what their doctors are doing to their body.
People call for help every day. And every person must always try to make sure that their health is never compromised, never taken lightly. Their call for help must never be louder nor repeated once it is accepted by doctors. (Mari–Faye D. Libang)
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on May 27, 2017.
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