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SATURDAY’S CHILD: Shooting in the dark


Tony Deyal

SATURDAY’S CHILD: Shooting in the dark

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“WE LADIES go see the gynaecologist. The doctor who knows us inside out, so to speak. No matter what you guys think, it’s no fun being poked, prodded, and pinched by a doctor or nurse plus a ‘witness’ while you shiver under a paper smock on a cold steel table. The metal contraptions they use are enough to give you nightmares . . . This is all to the good of our overall health, so we do it.”  
This comes from the website Miss Cellania and deals with the importance of gynaecologists to women’s health. What Miss Cellania did not know is that in Trinidad other contraptions are in use.
According to the conventional wisdom and “doctor” jokes, gynaecologists can also excel at other professions, including using tools not normally associated with their stock-in-trade.
For example, there is the story of the gynaecologist who fell victim to the recent financial meltdown and who had to seek employment through the government agency. One day, a contractor found himself short of help and went to the unemployment office to hire someone for the day. With no painters available, he was offered a gynaecologist, whom the contractor reluctantly took along.
A few weeks later, the contractor returned to the unemployment office needing temporary help again. This time there were two painters, but instead he asked for the gynaecologist again. The clerk asked, “Why do you want a gynaecologist when we have two professional painters?” He said, “Two weeks ago when I hired the gynaecologist, we arrived at the house and it was locked with nobody home. But I’ll be damned if that gynaecologist didn’t stick his hand through the mail slot and paint the whole house!”
A local TNT newspaper reported, “After a seven-year court battle in which he denied making a threatening telephone call, a consultant gynaecologist was found guilty and apologized in court to his fellow gynaecologist for threatening to kill him. Magistrate Alexander Prince in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court on February 25 found Dr Krishna Rampersadsingh guilty of telephoning the home of Dr Jehan Ali in Palmiste and threatening to kill him.
“Ali was at the time head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at San Fernando General Hospital and Rampersadsingh, who worked under him, telephoned his home close to midnight on August 29, 2004, and shouted, ‘I will kill your . . .’”
I am not sure what oath Dr Rampersadsingh swore that was deleted from the text of the newspaper. Clearly, it could not have been the Hippocratic Oath, named after the celebrated Greek physician, which doctors swear to uphold. If, as one of my friends believes, the deleted expletive alludes to the anatomical area in which gynaecologists practice their profession, then the doctor who made the threat would be in familiar territory.
There are two extremely interesting sidelights to this issue. The first is that if you ever want a doctor in Trinidad (or the entire Caribbean, in fact) to testify against another doctor in a malpractice suit, it will never happen but it is clear that doctors have no problems in taking their own colleagues to court, especially if they consider themselves victims.
The second is the matter of professional ethics and the role of medical councils, which are supposed to regulate the profession and have, as part of their mandates, the enforcement of professional conduct, and medical associations, which are expected to maintain the honour and interest of the medical profession.
Is the medical profession and “honour” compatible? Is the term “ethical doctor” an oxymoron?
A seven-year-old girl told her mum, “A boy in my class asked me to play doctor”. The mother was aghast. “Oh, dear,” the mother nervously sighed. “What happened, honey?” “Nothing,” the little girl replied. “He made me wait 45 minutes and then double-billed the insurance company.”
In another story, a woman was in her doctor’s office and suddenly shouted out, “Doctor, kiss me!” The doctor looked at her and remarked, “It’s against the Code of Ethics to kiss you.” A few minutes later the woman again shouted out “Doctor, please, kiss me just once!”
Again he refused, apologetically, and said, “As a doctor I simply cannot kiss you. It violates my code of professional conduct.” Soon after, she pleaded again, “Doctor, Doctor, please kiss me just once!” The doctor replied, “Look. I am sorry but I just cannot kiss you. In fact, I probably shouldn’t even be making love to you.”

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