We, the modern Indian upper middle and upper classes, have been by and large supposedly taught to reject blind faith and to think rationally thanks to the boost that «scientific temper» received ever since our beloved Uncle, Chacha Nehru, ensured that it was made one of the Fundamental Duties of every citizen of India to develop a «scientific temper». Without elaborating much on this subject as that can take the space of 10 blogs or more, I directly arrive upon the problem of the blind faith that is conferred upon doctors. Since physicians are perceived as men and women of science who work with the sole and single-minded objective of curing a malady or alleviating the troubles caused by a disease based on their medical studies, there is apparently no need felt to question the remedies they prescribe (including medicines and surgeries), their training (good marks ≠ good doctors always) or even whether they are psychologically sound enough to be in the close proximity of their patient.
The recent rape of a Vashi lady patient under anaesthesia by Vishal Vanne (I refuse to prefix his name with Dr.) did not come as a shock to me. It definitely did shock and anger my parents, especially my father who is an orthopaedic surgeon himself. He is of the opinion that Vishal Vanne should be bobbitised as that is the only punishment fit for him. I, for one, was only stoic, only wondering whether more such things could have come to light earlier, had patients not been under complete anaesthesia. A late-night conversation at my hostel with a roommate 5 years ago had shocked, outraged and numbed me enough to not feel anything this time around. My former roommate has an elder sister who is a doctor. Let us call her Dr. V. Dr. V. did her M.B.B.S. at a reputed medical college in Bombay when she experienced stuff straight out of movies based on psychopaths. Dr. V’s parents had started hunting for a single, young, eligible doctor for her when she consented to have an arranged marriage as she did not have a boyfriend. The very first proposal they managed to fish was from a cardiac surgeon. The girl refused him without meeting him. The parents were taken aback. Furthermore, she instructed her parents not to allow a surgeon even in the veranda of the house! This left her folks flabbergasted. She explained her reaction. She had participated in several surgeries where she had witnessed surgeons (young and old) abuse patients under anaesthesia (not penetrative assault of course) and make such debauched and deplorable comments as to be unimaginable to someone with even an iota of decency. On those occasions she had wanted to escape from the operation theatre as she was unable to concentrate on the task at hand and was unwilling to tolerate indecency aimed at the patient and herself. I was left stunned and speechless. Given my paternity, I also felt betrayed. I was extremely embarrassed too (as if the guilt were my own) as the other two girls present at that time made a quick glance in my direction (possibly to gauge my reaction) and looked away. At that moment, I would have given up anything to be told definitively that my father was not a surgeon or a doctor at all! However, that would have made him a quack given that he tells the world that he is a surgeon. Nonetheless, he was and he is a qualified surgeon with verifiable credentials and I had to make my peace with that. Dr. V has now completed her M.D. and she is now married to a M.D. She stuck to her decision of not having a surgeon for a husband.
That exchange had remained in my mind ever since and it continued to torment my soul. I once casually brought up that conversation during a tête-à-tête with my parents and asked my father if surgeons have a reputation for being perverts in the medical community. Their reactions were remarkable. My mother, who was convinced that nobody from her husband’s profession was capable of such a thing, declared Dr. V. to be crazy. My father however was perturbed and disconcerted. He did not say a word and he avoided eye contact for quite some time with his 19 year old daughter. A year or two later, I mentioned the same conversation to a lady doctor in my French class. She admitted that such things are commonplace and it disturbs her that any and every kind of a person, irrespective of character, can become a doctor as long as they score high marks in the medical entrance test and class 12 exams. The doctors who abhor perverse and anti-social behaviour in hospitals and medical colleges often don’t speak up for the lack of conclusive evidence and since student doctors have the additional burden of obtaining their degrees before starting a revolt. My father may not be guilty or even capable of such a crime but he along with this lady doctor friend of mine and Dr. V., is guilty of not protesting on the spot against errant doctors or at least reporting such things to competent authorities. What compounds the gravity of the Louts Hospital rape case in Vashi is the fact that Vishal Vanne is not even a surgeon! He is an ayurvedic doctor and yet had access to an operation theatre where these guys have no business! The Lotus Hospital has rightly been served the show cause notice.