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     Volume 11 |Issue 44| November 09, 2012 |


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The World of Make-Belief - Doctors

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Most people, besides the community of hypochondriacs, hate going to the doctor's. It's because we don't want to admit that some of the parts are just not working and need repair or replacement or plain removal. Going to the hospital or doctor's chamber is disconcerting, boring and often quite terrifying. Dreaming of being a doctor, on the other hand is something else.

Many a child has had a doctor's kit replete with plastic stethoscope, syringe and other medical accessories, as the most prized possession the entire toy collection. More so as it gave the chance to vent all the anger, frustration and fear caused by pediatricians who conspired with parents to cause unnecessary pain and suffering in those formative years. Remember the number of injections Barbie got during her 'illness' and the long, complicated surgery performed on Teddy's foamy tummy that went a little haywire when all his stuffing came out and it couldn't be put back in? Ah those sweet childhood memories.


It becomes a little disturbing however, when grown ups, without going through the agonies of medical training, continue to nurture the fantasy of being a doctor and then pretend to be one. The latest of such bizarre incidents (and there are many) was of a 20-year-old woman who went around the wards of DMCH, donning a doctor's apron and holding a medical book. She talked to patents and probably looked through their records. It was when she started shouting at a patient's relatives and ordering them to leave that a member of the security personnel began to have doubts about the doctor's authenticity. Later the young, fake doc explained that she had been staying with a female medical intern at the Mitford Hospital and was enamoured by the amount of respect the intern received from patients and relatives. Respect! The most priceless gift that every human being craves for regardless of whether it is deserved or not.

It would certainly explain why another 52- year-old fake doctor had been practising for 25 years and had until he was finally arrested, conducted hemorrhoid and fistula surgeries at his 'Piles Care' (more like 'Piles Scare') clinic. The 'surgeon' in question took Tk 5,000 to Tk 15,000 per surgery and earned more than Tk 10,000 every day in visiting fees. At the time he was arrested for a second time and sentenced to two years imprisonment, it was known that this self-appointed doctor with a Masters in Philosophy thought it appropriate to carry on his father's 'legacy': a homeopath who also carried out the aforementioned operations and also did not have any formal training in any medical discipline. For many medical students and interns who study their brains out every night and work like dogs every day, this may be a somewhat disheartening story but at least they will be happy to hear that only a rare few have had the talent and temerity to carry on such a farce for so long without getting caught.

An obviously less gifted con man who posed as a doctor at the gynecology ward at DMCH, for instance, was caught after one month of visiting patients, going through their charts and one dreads to think what else, when he behaved indecently with a patient.

While allopathic doctors are all the rage, people of this country have a great weakness for 'herbal doctors'. And it is not just the village quacks and pirs who milk money out of the simple-minded and superstitious with their mysterious potions and self-proclaimed supernatural powers. Even in the cities there are plenty of fake ayurvedic healers to con the gullible city dwellers. Like the four fake doctors who were arrested, sentenced to two-years imprisonment (oh what a deterrent!) and their two clinics were closed down. The clever quartet thought giving names like 'India Herbal Medical' and 'Kolkata Herbal Medical Centre' would lure many patients thinking they had affiliations with ayurvedic centres in India, the mother of herbal medicine. As for their 'medicine', it included concoctions made with allopathic and homeopathic medicine or just solutions of sugar and water.

From a patient's point of view such stories do precious little to assuage the age-old fear of going to the doctor. Now not only will the patient get the usual palpitations wondering about the painful procedure ahead - there will also be that niggling fear that the person with the stethoscope has a different kind of MBBS - Make-belief Bachelors of Brain Surgery.

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