Tue, 10 Oct 2000

Offended doctor cancels operation

If you happen to live somewhere in Klaten, Central Java, beware when you go to Diponegoro Dua Satu hospital for some medical treatment. If you are a surgery patient refrain yourself from asking too many questions, especially if the doctor attending you is Dr. P.

On Oct. 7, 2000 my mother was going to have a kidney stone operation. In the last minutes before the operation, Dr. P wanted to talk to some people representing her and I was one of them. It is my habit to ask a doctor a lot of questions and on that occasion I did likewise.

When Dr. P, a urologist and head of the hospital, compared the X-ray photos of my mother's kidney stone, which were taken five days prior to the day set for the operation, and those taken some time before the operation, I, as a layman knowing nothing about how to interpret X-ray photos, asked questions about the photos.

The dialog ran more or less as follows:

(There are two kidney stones to be removed, as shown in the X- ray photo taken five days prior to the operation, but the x-ray photo taken on the day of the operation showed that the position of the stones had changed).

Question: Doctor, which part will be operated on?

Answer : This lower part. This will be cut open.

Question: What about this other one, doctor?

Answer: Well, we'll find it. We'll slit open a bigger area. We'll find it. This is unusual. I don't know why this one would move upward.

Question: How long will it take for my mother to recuperate?

Answer: Well, quite a while, considering she is already old. Besides, the heart is swollen.

Question: Really, doctor? Is it true that her heart is swollen? How to diagnose it, doctor?

Answer: Look here, the picture is not clear, is it?

Question: Doctor, I have heard that there is a pain-killer.

Answer: It depends on the patient. In fact, it can be harmful to her nerves.

After giving this information, which was not satisfactory to me, he said: " Okay, no operation".

We were all shocked. To make sure that I had heard correctly, I asked, "Doctor, how is it now?" He said, " Just take her home now." At that time my mother was already prepared for an operation. Without any explanation, all instruments were removed from her and she was taken to her room. All this made my mother panic, obviously.

Then I asked the hospital officer in charge for the status file of my mother but the request was refused. We also could not get any information about how far my mother had been treated so that a new doctor would find out the whole thing about my mother. Worse still, we could not use the ambulance. In fact, it was idle and we offered to pay.

I question Dr. P's professionalism. In his oath, a doctor pledges to help even an enemy. Legally, this doctor has obviously violated the code of conduct for the medical profession.

My mother is now being treated in another hospital. It has been found that the left kidney no longer functions and must be removed. She is now taking a blood transfusion because her hemoglobin level is declining. Very obviously, Dr. P gave a different diagnosis.