March 15, 2005

Cause for concern?

This is with reference to some worrying cases of wrong diagnosis of some students by the doctors at Darmstadt. Although these have been isolated incidents, few and far between, it does provide us with some cause for concern. There is of course no reason to panic, but I thought it better to bring it to the notice of those concerned, as well as those of you who may be using the services of a doctor here at Darmstadt.

About two years back, a student complained of problems in his chest, and consulted a doctor. After a week of tests and check-ups, the doctor was not able to diagnose the exact problem. The student was referred to the Klinikum Darmstadt, but here again they just performed every test possible, to no end. After 5 weeks of clinical tests and lots of pain, the student had no clue as to what was happening, except that his condition was no better than before.

Next was the case of another student who had a relapse of some condition he already had at home. He thought that Germany with all its reputatipn as a Western country and advancements in medicine, would cure him. The contary!!! He was wrongly diagnosed, and horror of horrors, the guy's conditon became so worse that people feared his life was in danger. He had a series of surgeries over a period of one year, lost a year or more of his studies, suffered hell a lot of pain. Add to this the fact he had to move with a metal frame screwed into his skull for about a year!!! Well, I am not saying the doctors here were totally responsible for it, but they surely could have prevented his condition from regressing so bad so fast. It was one more instance where the doctors could not diagnose a patient properly.

And finally now comes the case of a new student who was admitted into Klinikum Darmstadt, with acute stomach ache. The doctors took quite some time to diagnose him, during which period he started having bouts of vomiting and fatigue. This he claimed only after being admitted to the Klinikum. And then they told him they suspected Tuberculosis. Fine. But what irked me and many other people here was the fact that all the while the doctors kept him in the dark regarding his condition, and moreover refused to divulge the details to his friends even after they claimed that they were his guardians. Desparate to get some information about his condition, they even contacted a GP who had earlier treated him. This GP requested Klinikum to detail his condition, which they seemingly did, but were later angry at this student for having contacted an external doctor for reference. The latest news is that this student is seemingly recovering, but only just. He still has NOT been diagnosed, and they keep shuttling him between rooms. He has been prevented from using the general toilet, and he ahs been instructed to share a toilet with other TB suspects.

When contacted, no plausible explanation was given by the nurses there, when we asked them what if some of the 'suspects' really had TB, and our friend did not, and what if he contracted the disease from them. Even those details which we could extract from them was only after we got some one who spoke German to speak to them.

Such is the strange condition here at Darmstadt. I am not aware of the situation at other places in Germany. Well, I re-iterate that my aim is not to accuse or condemn the system here. Rather, it is the desire of all international (read 'foreign') students here, who would wish to get a better treatment from the system here. When I say 'treatment', it does not necessarily refer to 'medical treatment'.

Not to panic..all is not lost. I surely do believe that there is scope for improvement. But I felt that people must be made aware of such things lest they should face some inconveniences like these in the future.

Comments are welcome, as also your own experiences if you have had any, on such lines.

Update: The student in question has been finally diagnosed with TB, after 2 full weeks at hospital, and 4 weeks of undertaking treatment. - BHUVAN (March 18).


Vidhya Muralidhar said...

Hi Bhuvan,

Wondering who is this. Well I am Mrs.Muralidhar (Vidhya). I read the contents in Ger 'Mania' and it has been presented fantastically. My main reason for this comment relates to doctors in Germany. Its such an unforeseen experience with doctors over here which is intolerable and unethical. Are those doctors made aware of what exactly the student is suffering with because he is the best person to convey his problems and explain as doctors are found unexpectedly ignorant. Another way could be request politely, the doctor to give full description of the symptoms or other problems the student is suffering with and send the same to a reliable doctor in India and get suggestions and help. Has this been tried ? There is no point just relying on such doctors and suffering for which obviously you are not here for.

Mithun Aiyswaryan said...

Hi all,

I am in complete concordance with Bhuvan's views regarding the medical practices in Germany. This I could easily illustrate based upon a demand supply logic. If the supply is very little and the demand is great, them the most competent among the demand see to the end. As in developing countries like India and other East European countries, the study of "Medicine" is supposedly the noblest of all professions. However, the adademic institutions in the above mentioned countries adopt stringent selection processes to choose the students who are the future medical practitioners. However, in the so-called "Developed" countries, medicine is apparently not the way it is supposed. I have personally witnessed students to successfully be admitted to Medical schools, who could not muster an admission at any other Eastern or the so-called "Developing countries". And the medical students are taught, not to think with their heads but with computers. One needs a computer to mention that Aspirin is the drug for headaches(actually against headaches!!! LOL)! But when I visited a doctor when I had a cold, I was prescribed some drug which I apparently did not take, but relied upon the medicine prescribed by an Indian doctor and brought along from India. This might seem a bit skeptical or silly, but believe me, it worked!!!
So at this point I would say, the "Developing" countries are the ones that are "Developing" something for the future. And as to the "Developed " part, its nothing more than the previous charisma and the spent workforce.
As to Germany, the acute need for more "better" doctors has instigated its nemesis and self-destruction. The need for more doctors has led to the creation of more than the requires number of places in the medical schools. This has also lowered the threshold for minimum qualification and calibre of the students who seek a medical profession. This is clearly a degradation in the quality. This is apparently the onset of the problems that arise and are blogged.