Rookie doctors need supervision
-medical council chairman emphasises

Stabroek News
January 14, 2003

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A potential hazard in the public health sector is the placement of young doctors in unsupervised positions, says Medical Council of Guyana chairman, M.Y. Bacchus.

Speaking to Stabroek News last week, Dr Bacchus, who took over the helm of the council around six months ago, said the medical body has spoken to the Ministry of Health on the subject and he hopes a meeting will be held shortly.

According to Dr Bacchus some doctors who are required to work under supervision are sent to hospitals where they see patients unsupervised. He pointed out that because there is a shortage of doctors these rookie doctors are often sent to outlying areas.

But "these doctors are registered to be placed at hospitals where they should be supervised and the hospital they should be sent to is the Georgetown Hospital."

He made specific mention of two such cases where two doctors were sent to the Bartica Hospital and an institution on the Corentyne.

Dr Bacchus said these doctors saw patients on their first visits unsupervised.

He said the council became aware of the doctor at Bartica when a mother died in childbirth at the hospital.

Dr Bacchus was quick to point out that the death of the woman had nothing to with the doctor since he was called when the woman was "almost dead."

He said the woman should have been sent to the city because of the seriousness of the case but was kept there and when the doctor was finally sent for it was too late.

However, in investigating the matter, the MCG learnt that the doctor is supposed to be under supervision but sees patients on their first visits. Asked about some of the complaints the council has received since he became chairman, Dr Bacchus said most of these were about deaths that occurred in various hospitals.

He said the council has investigated these complaints but did not find the doctors or hospitals to be responsible.

Many complaints were also made about the attitude of doctors. Patients have alleged that certain doctors were hostile and had used bad language. "We investigated... but it was their word against the doctor's. Since we were not there the most we could have done is to caution the doctors to be more temperate when dealing with patients," he said.

He encouraged the public to come forward with cases where patients may have been misdiagnosed. These were very serious matters which are hardly reported to the council, he said. According to Dr Bacchus the council has not been forced to take any action against any doctor.

The council has also been asked for its opinion on alternative medicine, or in this case herbal medicine. Dr Bacchus said that while that does not fall within their ambit they were asked by the ministry for their opinion which they gave. He said legislation is now being crafted on the issue.

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