One would expect that the leaders of the medical associations and the medical councils would serve as wise elders. They would stand up for doctors, and represent the public face of doctors to society. They would be the voice of the medical profession, so that they could ensure that the doctor-patient relationship was based on mutual respect and trust.
When society offers doctors the privilege of being professionals, they also give them the duty and obligation of self-regulation. Doctors are meant to control and regulate each other, because they have access to specialized medical knowledge which lay-people don't. Sadly, the medical associations and council have failed miserably at this task, and this is one of the reasons why patients don't trust doctors anymore.
Any time there is a case when the medical outcome is poor, the press is happy to bandy terms like alleged medical negligence or incompetence. These reports get blown out of proportion, and the media has a field day indulging in doctor bashing. These associations which should provide the doctor's balanced perspective, based on scientific best practices and evidence, unfortunately choose to keep quiet.
Ideally, they should have a Media Liaison , which offer s a 24/7 service, and connects journalists to experienced independent medical experts, who can provide a thoughtful unemotional viewpoint, based on medical facts. However, they maintain a studied silence, and let the doctor who is being accused of being a butcher bear the brunt of the media fire. Lay-people then mis-interpret this silence as being a tacit admission of guilt, as a result of which society gets to view a very distorted picture, where facts get twisted.
Sadly, most good doctors don't become leaders of these associations, because they don't want to get their hands dirty playing the petty politics which characterise the jockeying for power in these medical associations. They would rather be taking care of their patients , one on one , in their clinics and operation theaters. As a result of this, the doctors who gravitate to becoming leaders of these associations are usually those who enjoy politicking. They often aren't doing well as clinicians, and are more interested in winning the elections for becoming the President of the association. They are focused on creating a vote bank for themselves within the members, and their primary aim is to earn a higher public profile for themselves, rather than looking after the profession's best interests.
Good doctors aren't very interested in power, which is why the leaders often end up becoming the ones who are more interested in furthering their own personal selfish interests . As a result of this, when something goes wrong in a hospital, the good doctors - the ones who have clout in the community because they're respected by their patients for their medical expertise - keep quiet , because they don't feel it's their place to speak up on behalf of someone else. And the medical association leaders - many of whom are often beholden to the government for their position of power - will not speak up , because they want to be politically correct and not ruffle any feathers.
What's even worse is that the few good courageous doctors who are willing to speak up on a public platform on behalf of their colleagues will get pulled down by these so-called leaders , because they are seen as being a threat to their positions of power. The association leaders will do their best to curb an independent voice, because they cannot manipulate it.
This is a huge tragedy, and we need individual doctors to speak up on behalf of all doctors everywhere ! Social media provides them with this platform, and doctors need to make use of it , so that they can explain to patients what they do and why !
I am a consultant IVF specialist, who runs one of India’s leading IVF clinics at www.drmalpani.com, along with my wife, Dr Anjali Malpani. We have founded HELP, the Health Education Library for People (www.healthlibrary.com), which is India’s first Patient Education Resource Center. I have authored many books, including: How to Get the Best Medical Care; Successful Medical Practise; Using Information Therapy to Put Patients First; and Patient Safety - Protect yourself from Medical Errors which are available free at www.thebestmedicalcare.com . My passion is patient empowerment; and I believe that using Information Technology to deliver Information Therapy to patients can heal a sick healthcare system. I am an active angel investor ( www.malpaniventures.com)