The recent death of a loved one brought into focus the professional and ethical limitations of private doctors and medical institutions in Guyana. Medical care is beyond the reach of the poor; those who scrape enough to visit a private doctor are more often than not exposed to misdiagnosis, and unnecessary and exorbitantly priced diagnostic tests which doctors often fail to properly interpret and as a consequence do not give patients appropriate treatment.
For instance, my deceased relative went to a popular doctor in New Amsterdam complaining of chest pain and vomiting blood. The doctor prescribed an ECG and lipid panel blood work. However, he admittedly did not recognize the clearly indicated high ST Elevation and low pulse rate of the ECG and failed to exercise due diligence in recommending a cardiac biomarker blood test to rule out any cardiac distress. He mistreated the patient for gastric pain and recommended rest.
The patient was rushed the same night to a private hospital in the city complaining of pain in the chest area. The attending physician recommended an ECG and treated the patient for gastritis. Again the ECG was misread and the doctor later revealed that the patient was not symptomatic for cardiac distress.
The patient died a week later at the same hospital after emergency procedures showed that he had multivessel blockage and a totally calcified left anterior descending artery.
The same doctor, in a meeting a week later, presented an ECG result that’s dubious and highly questionable at best and also revealed that the patient had the vitals of an athletic young man. Anyone can see something manifestly wrong with this picture.
I am sure that this particular case mirrors many others. The obvious and pertinent questions swirling around it are: how can doctors so blatantly misread an objective diagnostic test? Are they not trained to look beyond the subjective responses patients give them?
Guyanese must, out of necessity, prod their health care providers with questions since many are either incompetent, negligent or both.