There were two letters in today's Straits Times forum page. One from the President of the Singapore Medical Association and the other from the President and Council of the College of Family Physicians, about the recent comments Salma Khalik made about greedy doctors. Both decried the perceived unfair criticism of doctors. One even suggested that Ms Khalik's article was 'callous and unpatriotic'. huh??
I must say that the letters, while trying to defend doctors against the perceived injustice, really themselves presented a very negative image of doctors. I think their crocodile tears have done more to hurt doctors than the article themselves.
How can I say that?
Well, in neither of the letters do the authors deny that over prescribing of slimming pills were a common practice. They referred to Subutex and benzodiazepines, but these were not the slimming pills in question. Ms Khalik in her article had reported that her svelte colleague did not have difficulty in finding doctors who readily prescribed her slimming pills. Although anecdotal, this would suggest that it was a common practice. Why would a doctor prescribe slimming pills to a svelte young lady other then to make money? Unethical? Most definitely. Such unprofessional practice should be regulated by the profession itself.... why insist that legislation is required?
Yet neither Presidents offered a solution to this problem. Neither would acknowledge that it is a problem.
I would rather the medical profession self regulates such bad practices, but the tone of the letters disappointingly suggests that neither the Association not the College of FM (and likely the Medical Council as well) will proactively deal with the problem. So what can one make of the profession?
It is of course unfair to tarnish the reputation of the profession because of a few black sheep, but here are indications that this is a more wide spread problem than just involving a few melanotic herbivores. The apathy of the professional bodies is quite telling. Perhaps the solution is not about decoupling consultations and dispensing, but their nexus in GP clinics does create the setting for a major conflict of interest that does not acting in the patient/consumer's favor. Pretending the problem does not exist doesn't make it go away. Doctors should know better.
My plea to my professional sibs is this: Do something about it and swallow the bitter pill before something more unpleasant gets forced down our throats.
5 years ago