DISRESPECT, RUDENESS AND IRRESPONSIBILITY

Tuesday Apr 30, 2013 -

I have been thinking of the reason for starting this blog: to create a platform for all of us to talk about the problems that bedevil healthcare. We talked about the doctors’ strike because it was a core example of some of the problems that underlie our healthcare system. The recurrent strikes by doctors, nurses and other health workers, is the ultimate antithesis of what healthcare should be about.

We need to continue to talk about patients’ experiences in hospitals and with doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. The aim of these discussions is to bring into the open what numerous patients have been suffering and, sometimes literally, dying of in silence. Let us give a voice to this suffering with the hope that we can change things and save lives. The noble role of medical care is to save lives, prevent illness and ease suffering. So if in the process of doing this medical care causes preventable deaths or causes suffering and pain then we, as a society, need to take note, discuss it to find causes and hopefully improve things. That is the self-appointed mandate of this effort.

Today let us talk about what really happens in our hospitals, doctors’ offices and pharmacies. In my first blog entry I used a vignette about my own experience in a hospital. From what I have come to know since then, that is an absolutely minor example of what some patients experience when they access medical care. Some patients have felt abused and disrespected; some patients have suffered poor outcomes which have not been acknowledged even when healthcare givers have been made aware. Some, unfortunately, have died of preventable deaths due to negligence and irresponsibility. What I have heard over and over again, however, is the disrespect, the rudeness, the uncaring attitude and even insults that patients have endured when they access health care.

Personally I have been amazed at the paradox. The time of illness is one of the most vulnerable times in a person’s life; a time of significant stress. A sick person is mostly confused. He or she does not know what is going on. Is this an ordinary sickness or one that could end my life? Is this illness going to incapacitate me? Can I continue to work to look after my family?  Will this illness kill my child? Kill my mother? Kill my husband? My wife? This is the time when a sick person needs empathy, a hopeful word, a kind touch, a patient explanation and flawless knowledge and expertise. That the patient receives, instead, rudeness, insults and incompetence is a paradox beyond comprehension.

What is it that makes a person who has gone into a profession so noble, so respected, and so capable of doing good things to another human being become so rude, so uncaring, and sometimes even irresponsible? Is it the training (or maybe the lack of it), is it the upbringing, is it the work place? When it appears, as it is perceived in Ghana, that this problem is more widespread than is acceptable, then we must do something about it. We must talk about it openly and without fear or hindrance. It is only then that we can tackle the problem effectively. We cannot suffer in silence. Patients should be empowered. They should expect and demand respect. They should expect and demand better communication. They should expect and demand responsibility and accountability.

That is medicine’s mandate, that is a patient’s right.

Let us share our comments and our specific experiences.

Dr. Joseph Boateng

About Dr. Joseph Boateng

Dr. Joseph Boateng is a Physician Specialist. He has practiced medicine for over 31 years. He has extensive medical management and leadership experience as Medical Director or Deputy Medical Director for several hospitals in the US, Ghana and Nigeria, and as the managing partner of a medical practice he founded in the US.

44 comments on “DISRESPECT, RUDENESS AND IRRESPONSIBILITY

  1. I am exceptionally excited that Dr Boateng is very interested in this all important matter. I agree with the views you have expressed on the need for us as a society to begin to actively explore ways and means of improving patient safety and raising the threshold of accountability for health care professionals in Ghana. I have witnessed a number of commissions of Inquiry set up in Ghana on many issues. But I am yet to see a commission of inquiry set up to look into operations of some of our health institutions particularly in relation to patient safety and good medical practice. I can recall the famous Bristol royal infirmary inquiry in England and Wales which stimulated public debate on best strategies to enhance patient safety and healthcare accountability in UK hospitals. I wish one day there will be a similar opportunity for Ghana. However, let me be quick to sound a note of caution that the need to empower patient or enhance medical accountability in Ghana is not necessarily confrontational call against the health care profession. There are many health care professionals who are genuinely leaving up to their sacred professional calling. Thus, the call for public discourse on these matters is actually a call for partnership between patients, the public and the healthcare profession. Indeed, healthcare professionals who are genuinely committed to patient care and safety should rather be happy that now the public is becoming increasingly interested in their work and how it impact on patient safety. In this regard, it will be helpful for our journalist to take active interest in the quality standards of healthcare delivery and the extent to which patients are empowered or disempowered by the current realities of healthcare practice in Ghana. The late Lucy Adoma Yeboah was one journalist who consistently published on these matters in the daily graphic and her blog. Ernest Owusu-Dapaa, Email: eodapaa@yahoo.com

    • Ernest, I agree with you that the effort to empower patients should not encourage or condone undue confrontation or disrespect of the medical profession as a whole or toward healthcare professionals. Our best scenario is to have the partnership that you talked about. That should be our aim. Two things, however, need to happen: Ghanaian patients should be a little more assertive when is comes to their healthcare. Especially when they are being treated poorly. Second, the bad nuts in the profession must be identified or sanctioned one way or the other. This discussion about healthcare quality and safety that we are starting is to bring this hidden cancer into the open and give it a public face. That could then lead to the Commission of Enquiry that you mentioned and to tightening or initiating regulations/laws that will protect the patient and his/her rights.

  2. Well said doc. the question on my mind after reading your bloc is the same ones you have put up. what makes our professionals in the medical field ” soo unprofessionl”?in dealing with the same people they have “been Trained to help? I would like some of them to tell us why? I work in the hospital as a support worker and myself and all personels in the hospital gives our all, in every field that we find ourselves to be working. “Patients” are ALWAYS RIGHT and are treated with dignity, no questions asked, thats the Rule and That’s the law.It’s so sad we abroad are giving out loving tender care to patients and our relatives back home are being treated like dirt when they happen to be sick. WHY?????????? I would like to hear a reasonable reason from someone please.

    • Margaret, I think the doctors in Ghana who persistently disrespect patients do so as a result of combination of factors. First, there is high illiteracy rate among our patients. Secondly, the Ghanaian traditional culture of not questioning persons in authority about their pronouncements and decisions directly or indirectly shape the attitudes of patients in the context of doctor-patients relationship.Thus, our patients tend not to ask for explanation or even adequately register their dissatisfaction about their handling or treatment to authorities in the relevant health institutions. How many Ghanaians are aware of the activities and functions of the Medical and Dental Council or the Medical ethics and disciplinary committee of the Ghana Medical Association or even the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice in relation to medical abuses and malpractices.Thirdly, there is extreme imbalance between demand for healthcare professionals especially doctors and dentists and the supply of healthcare professionals in Ghana. Yesterday, I read that the minister of health pointed out that ‘the total number of doctors that we have currently is about 2,843, and the population of Ghana is 25 million, and if you work it out, it is almost like one doctor to 10,000 people.’ In the face of this acute shortage of healthcare professionals, those in the system tend to be swollen headed and some may want to be treated like Kings or bosses and talked down patients instead of caring for patients with love and professional competence. In my view, the way forward is to keep talking and discussing these issues in the public with our brethren in the healthcare profession. As a lawyer I show utmost respect to my clients not only because of fear of losing my clients to my competitors but that is how a professional dealing with human beings ought to behave. Let me be quick to admit that there are a lot of lawyers and other professionals including lecturers who are also very arrogant and show disrespect to their clients or customers or students. It is now time for us as a society to demand legal and ethical accountability from our professionals generally. But doctors and other healthcare professionals will receive maximum attention for now since their good or bad conduct affect matters of life and death. Patients who can recover need to recover in atmosphere of respect and dignity and even our unfortunate patients who cannot recover need to die in respect and dignity.

      • Lawyer owusu dapaa,you seem to miss the point.You do not respect a person because he is literate, or better educated than you. Or that you are afraid of the consequences such as being reported to a higher authority. You respect someone because it is his due, no buts, no ifs. The patient/doctor ratio is high indeed but a doctor deals with one patient at a time. so the high ratio is no excuse for a doctor to be rude, arrogant or disrespectful to anyone. Good manners reflects on and enhance the one who showers them.

        • Mr Bempah, I agree perfectly with the perspective with which you have joined the debate. However, we know that not all people are morally properly attuned. If all our professionals will consider this basic principle as you have rightly articulated that would be great for everyone. Both hard law and soft law enforcement systems are there to check the ones who do not care about the basic principle you have brilliantly stated.

    • Margaret, we can theoretically talk about all the cultural factors, work place issues, poor salaries etc. that “make” healthcare workers treat patients poorly. I have a very simple answer: they do it because they get away with it. Nobody is talking about it openly. Nobody is invoking existing regulations. So what is the incentive for a bad nurse or doctor to do things differently. The solution lies in, first, bringing the problem into the open and talking about it publicly and, secondly, making it unpalatable for healthcare workers to abuse and mistreat patients.

  3. the question is what kind of Society does not regards patients has human being has anyone read the white paper on the Rigth of The Patient?

    • Ralph, I am really hoping that in the foreseeable future we will have an enforceeable Patient Bill of Rights for the Ghanaian patient. Meantime, I would appreciate it if you could share the reference source of the Right of Patient.

  4. Been following your contribution. Interesting comments. It is interesting that we are only seeing these negative attitude in health workers. It is a national problem that goes beyond the health field. We only see it because we expect the health workers to be different from their compatriots. Over the short period that I have lived . I have seen the Ghanaian society changed for the worse. Hard work, courtesy, honesty is openly ridiculed and money has become the king. People bow and show respect only to money and those they think can get them the almighty money. I think it is akin to the period that the Bible talks about ‘when the wicked are prospering’ . As a nation we have lost our core values. Children cannot be corrected anymore, children do not get up for elderly people to sit down in vehicles and we rave and rant on the radio, insulting people who are our grandfathers. The medical education does not change the socialization of the individual. What we are seeing in the hospitals if we are very honest, is being seen in every sector of our society, rude secretaries in every office chewing gum, looking you up and down and asking rudely’ what do you want?” is a common daily experience for anyone who visits offices. Doctors and nurses come from the same stock as these secretaries. Let us be brutally frank. We the older generation has failed this nation. We have not brought up our children right!!!No amount of medical education can correct the damaged goods. The answer to our woes does not lie in the hospital it lies in the way we are socializing our children. We are bad examples. Period. We are reaping what we have sown. A generation with no understanding of the difference between a vocation and a job.

  5. Hi Tony
    Just seen your comments and I agree with you. We have developed a fault finding society with time. There is no insentive to be nice and any young person who is nice is perceived to be looking for a date. So they play safe by being rude What can we do?
    The issue has been a topic for several research and discussions in the health sector. These have led to the publication of The Patient Charter and Code of Conduct for health workers. A customer Care program has also been put in place by the GHS. If the unruly behaviour still persits then I guess this takes time to deal with. I heard a health worker comment at a meeting’we are better today than ten years ago and we will be better ten years from now.’ The irony is that the few who are rude are known by all in the facility but no one is able to correct or discipline them for fear of being insulted themselves. The training institutions should screen at admission and during training but alas I think they rather churn out the bad nuts at time especially when they offer bribes for admission or tutors are influenced to admit. I remain hopeful though if politicians will stop the insults and set good examples!!!

  6. Thanks to you, dr Boateng for igniting interest in this widespread attitudinal problem. The care we give in our hospitals ought to be dignified care and not just any care but since some health workers in Ghana has an exagerated sense of their own importance, EMPLOYERS AND THE MINISTRY MUST TACKLE THIS FROM MULTI-FACETED APPROACH. To nib this problem we should abolish en bloc AUTOMATIC appointment SYSTEM from HEALTH TRAINING SCHOOLS , MEDICAL SCHOOLS without interviews of certain category of health professionals. Secondarily job descriptions , employee annual appraisal system based on knowledge , attitude, skills and condition of service must be clarified to employees on assumption of duty and evaluated mid year and annually to retain and replace staff.
    Health care facilities must be allowed to interview, recruit their own staff based on human resource norms given by the MOH. dr daniel asare

    • Dr. Asare, your ideas about placement interviews of new healthcare professionals, especially doctors and nurses, by the receiving hospitals and periodic evaluations, are great. They will give the hospitals the opportunity to weed out the bad nuts. However I am wondering how we can achieve that in Ghana. In Ghana the government owns all the public hospitals and pays the salaries of all the doctors and nurses in the public hospitals and even in the faith-based hospitals through CHAG. There seems to be very little independence for the administrators of hospitals in terms of who to accept or fire or even directly reprimand.
      I believe that to generally improve healthcare quality, attract and retain good doctors and nurses and get rid of bad ones, there should be a way to make these hospitals, especially the Teaching, Regional and District hospitals, automomous of the GHS. The GHS can retain oversight and regulatory functions but cede appointment/termination and evaluation of doctors and nurses to the individual hospitals. In this blog one of our aims should be to suggest good ideas, such as yours, for change. Do you think this call for autonomy would be a good idea to push for? How do you think we should approach it? Any ideas from others?

      • Hi Dr Boateng i am pushing for reforms and greater responsibility with autonomy. the internally generated funds and the Nhia are good building blocks for the Government to wash its hands off korlebu and komfo anokye for now and pay them for training and capital costs thru budgetary allocations tied to achievable targets with set indicators. OTHERS WILL GET FUNDING TO ESTABLISH THEMSELVES FOR TWO TO FIVE YEARS AND WEAN OFF.THIS IS THE WAY I THINK WE SHOULD GO. IF KORLEBU NEEDS 400 DOCTORS 1200 NURSES GIVE THEIR SALARIES TO KORLEBU FOR ONE YEAR TO MANAGE . IF THEY NEED MORE THEY CAN ENGAGE THEM WITH THEIR OWN INTERNALLY GENERATED FUNDS.BASED ON ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REVIEWES THIR QUOTAWOULD BE REVIEWED AND BUGETARY ALLOCATIONS WOULD THEM BE BASED ON PERFORMANCE AND MANAGERS WOULD FLUSH OUT LAZY AND RECALCITRANTS DOCTORS AND USE THIR FUNDS TO ENGAGE FRESH HANDS.

        • Really great ideas, Dr Asare! Since it is similar to what the Government is currently doing with the CHAG members this shouldn’t be a problem to implement, I hope.

          I will like to see the day when the Government will turn over the FULL management and running of some of the current public hospitals into pure private hands. And even new hospitals. The Government can build and equip the hospitals initially and come into contracts with private hospital management teams, with veritable track record, to run these hospitals in PPP arrangements. The Government can remain as part owner with certain oversight rights and requirements. For example all such hospitals must take NHIS insurance. They cannot turn any emmergency patient away. They must have a certain slew of agreed upon services. They must be open 24/7. If their doctors or nurses go on strike they could lose their contract etc. Bold idea but maybe something to look at. We could start this on a pilot basis for selected hospitals.

          All in all, I personally do not believe that the current model of public hospital care delivery in Ghana is sustainable. As more and more doctors and nurses are trained and enter government employ, as more and more hospitals and health instittions are built with increasing recurrent costs, as our population increases, and as the public demand for better quality and sometimes high priced interventions (such as CT scans, MRIs, ECHOs, chronic disease care etc) increases, healthcare costs as a percentage of government expenditure will become unsustainable. The earlier we started a controlled privitization push in healthcare the better. It will be more difficult to solve the problems if we wait until crisis time.

          Autonomy will first of all remove direct costs from government responsibility. It will allow hospitals to control their costs through efficiency, attract patients through improvement in the quality and type of services they provide, and select and retain the best and the brightest workers. Bad doctors and nurses will realise that they will have to reform and play ball in other to get and retain their jobs!

          That, to me, will be a glorious day!

  7. pls what the doctors are doing now is simply in human what is it at all that a man has come to this world to collect. hmmmmmm. the bible says if u gain the whole world and loss ur soul whats the benefit therein. innocent souls are perishing in hell fire because of dis strike why. i appeal to their consciences to call off this strike and go back to the negotiation table. i am a worker too but so far as i can get three square meal im fine so please and please im reALLY hurt because of whAT HAPPENED TO MY BROTHER WHO PASSED ON

    • It’s easy for u to talk like that.but ask urself these few questions
      1.how long should doctors be at the negotiation table
      2.have doctors availed themselves for negotiations
      3.why would a govt accept liability in principle and refuse to commit themselves to what they have agreed in writing?
      4.can u suggest any alternative to strike when a govt drags negotiations for over two years
      5.do u think doctors re overpaid?
      6.re u aware that for essential service providers,there is a limit to how long negotiations must g on?the framers of our constitution knew that govts could hid behind the law and drag negotiations.
      7.do u think we have major problems on the labour front or it’s just doctors who have issues?
      8. Re u aware that the teachers are yet to be paid what they were asking for?
      In other countries responsible citizens rise up and bring their govts to order,but not in Ghana.pharmacists have been on strike for God knows hw long,doctors re also on strike and people like u re only interested in personalizing issues.do u really think there re no issues or u just do not care .what state of mind do u want ur doctor in when he sees u?

  8. Interesting subject.i wonder if u have also considered how our health personnel are overworked.in Ghana ,it’s absolutely normal of a doctor to sit at an OPD and attend to 60 patients and over in a 6 hour shift.
    Secondly,in the government sector,they don’t have conditions of service.
    Thirdly the working environment in mst govt hospitals re just too bad.
    Generally most private sector workers earn more and re more professional in their dealng with patients.
    The other fact too is that most Ghanaian patients re so unconcerned about their illness.they don’t even know the medications they ve been on for years and this one some very well educated people some can’t even describe what’s wrong with them in a logical way and it puts a tired and overworked doctor off.

    • Fabio, the reason that this blog was started was to help indentify the problems that make healthcare delivery in Ghana such a nightmare for the same people that it is supposed to help. Discussing the issue of rudeness and patient disrespect should help identify reasons, if any, why this problem exists. I am hoping that that is the way we can solve the problems. First we all accept that what pertains now is not good and needs change. Next we identify the causes as you have suggested in your piece. We can then suggest practical solutions.
      Personally I believe that a doctor or nurse, no matter how many patients you have to see/take care of, or how “dump” you think your patient is, you must always be professional, courteous and understanding. That is the call of the profession. Arrogance is definitely not useful. It is not always easy to be calm in the face of real or percieved work place stress but I do not believe that we should be rude to our patients when we are under stress. That will not solve any problems but can make everyone, including ourselves, more stressed and disillusioned. A vicious cycle!

  9. In fact am really enjoying the debate but my concern is that as health proffessionals, no matter how a patient provokes you, you should always exercise some kind of patience.

    Yes it is true that they can be provoking but that is where we should show our level of proffessionalism.

    My major problem in the health sector is that we don’t educate our patient as to what to and what not to do in a health facility.
    At times too we tend to pay a lot of attention to the educated thinking they may have some knowledge into their condition than the non educated. in fact that discriminatory attitude by some of us should stop. Thank you.

  10. really, they have to be concern about the patients who dying from birth in Ghana before they asked for increments.thank you.

  11. What happened to the Hippocratic oath do no evil? by being on strike patients are dying. God does not like ugly, what if it was their family members? This is unethical.

    • it’s too bad for doctors to go on strike because those who die can’t be brought back to life. this is the main reason why governments shouldn’t trigger their strike like it’s happening in ghana now. why did our govt decide to owe the doctors at all. if the doctors don’t embark on strike action this government will never pay its debt to them!!!! even while they are on strike the govt is adamant!!! the govt is rather bringing in cuban doctors whose clinical acumen is doubtful because for some strange reasons, the ghana medical & dental council doesn’t test them as it does to other foreign trained doctors wishing to practice their trade in ghana!!! the medical and dental must be dragged to court to force to examine all incoming cuban trained doctors!!!! ghanaians must be prtected from half-baked doctors. we are not guinea fowls/pigs!!!!!!!

  12. I AM HAPPY DR. BOATENG HAS COME OUT TO CALL FOR DISCUSSION ON ALL IMPORTANT NATIONAL ISSUE LIKE THIS.I BELIEVE TALKING ABOUT IT IN THE OPEN,WE WILL BE ABLE TO REDUCE IT TO THE BEAREST MINIMUM AND WOULD BE FINDING SOLUTION TO IT IN TOTALITY.A HEALTH WORKER EVER DISCUSS MY HEALTH HISTORY IN A VEHICLE ATER I HAD ALIGHTED FROM IT.A FRIEND OF MINE ON BOARD WAS SO DISGUSTED ABOUT THE BEHAVIOUR OF THIS NURSE AND INFORMED ME ABOUT WHAT WENT ON IN THE VEHICLE WHEN I LEFT AND WHEN I ASKED HER SHE BECAME ASHAME AND PRETENDED TO RENDER APOLOGY.SINCE THEN I REFUSE HER SERVICES WHENEVER I MEET HER ON DUTY.J

    • Joe, I believe that is another important issue we will need to tackle; the confidentiality of patient information. Doctors and nurses and indeed ALL healthcare workers should not be able to trade stories and jokes about patients’ confidential and private medical information. It is happening too often in hospitals and outside hospitals. It will take some time and work to get there but we should work hard toward that goal.

  13. Thanks Dr Boateng for instigating this important debate. Ask me what three words I would use to describe a typical Doctor in Ghana and I will answer as follows: rude, disrectpectful and arrogant. Of course there are a good number of our Doctors who work hard and show an interest not only in their work but also in their patients. What makes this debate important is the majority that put the august profession into shame with their behaviour and attitudes.

    I have lived and worked both in Ghana and abroad for well over 30yrs during which I’ve had the opportunity of being treated by Doctors from both sides. I couldn’t believe the level of professionalism I experienced the first time I received treatment from a Doctor abroad (in the UK to be precise); the the smile that welcomed me into the surgery,the generally friendly atmosphere, and the opportunity to ask questions, generated a whole new experience for me and made me develop great faith in medical professionals to help in times of need.

    In the 30 or so years before my departure from Ghana, I had resigned myself to what I believe the majority of Ghanaians do: that Doctors can play God; become angry when patients ask questions or seek clarification; and be dismissive. Such unecessary and needless attitude even starts from their student days. I remember on one occasion in my student days at the Universty of Ghana when I was referred for tests at the Korle Bu teaching hospital. Medical students at the practical stages of their studies travelled every morning to Korle Bu and returned to their halls of residence later on in the day. The Doctor who referred me had kindly suggested I joined the bus that carried the students. My experience during the journey has been one that I couldn’t get over for a very long time.

    On the said occassion, whilst clearly ill with fever, a second year student approched me on the bus when he couldn’t find a seat and asked me vacate my seat for him. None of his colleagues intervened and I had to accede to this clear incident of bullying by a student a few years younger that me, to avoid any possible disturbances. Also on all the occasions when I’ve asked family members, including my late father, to ask the Doctor during their visit as to what was actually wrong with them, they have returned with the answer: “he/she wouldn’t say; he/she got angry when we insisted”.Why should this legitimate request bee an issue when it is taken for granted elswhere?

    Five years ago, I had the pleasure of travelling to Ghana from Canada where I now live, for a short holiday. Unfortunately my joy of meeting family and friends nearly didn’t happen as a result of a severe stomach pain the on the 2nd day of arrival. I had to wake my cousin who was hosting me up at about 1am because of the pain I was experiencing. Concerned about me, he rushed me to the SSNIT hospital which seemed not to be operating any emergency service at the time. After waiting for nearly 30 mins in such pain, I was called to a Doctor’s office for examination during which I nearly walked out with my pain rather than endure the Doctor on duty’s unprofessional attitude. This Doctor in the first place, would not even talk to me. After asking me what was wrong, he gesticulated with his hands for me to lie down on an exmination table. He did same when he wanted me to turn round.

    Thereafter he proceeded to prescribe medicine for me. Concerned about my health, I asked him what he had diagnosed but he completely ignored me, pointing his finger at the door for me to leave. At this point I couldn’t help but to politely tell him how I felt; that he had failed in his duty to me and was a disgrace to the medical profession.

    Why does such culture of arrogance and disrectpect exist and continue to grow in the medical profession? Is it a case of society’s endorsement of the Godlike status such Doctor’s assume in our dear Country? Is it because Ghanaians have as yet not been able to appreciate the benefits associated with other professions aside from probably Law and Engineering? Or it is just the Black man’s thing.

    Its about time Doctors were properly educated on human relations. Ghanaians are known for our tolerance, hospitality and kindness; why can’t these be said of a good number of our Doctors?

    • K, we must wage a relentless and determined “war” on the arrogance, the disrespect and the incompetence. We should open these acts of unprofessionalism to the glare of open discussion, debate and patient advocacy because not only will it be good for patients (all of us!) but it will strengthen the medical profession.

  14. I am enjoying the debate, but I want us also consider the safety/security accept of our health care systems?

    • Charles, absolutely! Health safety, as also noted by another commentator, should be an important part of the equation.

  15. So happy the way this debate is going. From what i’ve read so far, majority of us believe there is a problem with our dear health care professionals and that something should be done ie 1. Change to their atittude towards our folks. No matter how stressed they might be their compassion towards their patients should be seen.I also believe we shoul’nt throw up our hands and think nothing can be done. Dr. Ofosu I like your comment very much but 1.We are talking about life and death situation here unlike a gum chewing secretary ,we expect our medical personels to show compassion even if patients do thick them off or something not because they are different beings but just because that’s what they are trained to do. A soldier has been trained to deffend his/her country and when time comes for him/her to do so, that is what they do. 2. Can’t we go back to train our new generation the old moral values that we enjoyed, one parent at a time and may be instill good values in our own kids? I say one at a time . It may take years but I believe one day we will look back and pat ourselves in the back. Change from the grassroot from HOME let’s train our kids the way they should go and wheh they grow up, they will not dedart from it.

    • Margaret, you and Dr Ofosu’s comments are so on the ball. One can sense this phenomenon in the classroom. A question about the need for compassion, sacrifice and respect for patients, elicits answers from future doctors that are painful to hear and alarming. But all is not lost. Where we cannot change by moral persuasion we may have to change by persuasive regulation. As a society we must define the public good and protect it the best way we can within the ambit of morality, social justice and democracy.

  16. as part of improving the healthcare system, private hospitals need to be encourageg. the problem some people face in establishing a private hospital is the board registering these hospitals, so much frustration from the registrar.

    • “Unknown”, I absolutely agree with you. If more and more private institutions are being registered there will be pressure for improving the registration process. Apart from registration there should be improved regulation and oversight of private health institutions so that patients do not receive shoddy healthcare and situations where patients are not referred early enough to higher levels of care because of financial gain reasons. The best scenario is to have large, well run hospitals, sometimes even surpassing the quality in public hospitals, as they have in India.

  17. Dr Boateng thanks for your blog. It appears almost every Ghanaian has something negative to say. Well I had a negative experience about 3 years ago at the 37 military hospital. I accompanied a friend whose boss had asked her to go to 37 to meet a worker who was being transported there in a cab and assist with paying and facilitating his care there. When we got there the gentleman was still sitting in the cab supported by someone! I asked why he was not taken into the building marked “casualty ward”, some workers standing at the doorway stated he could not be brought there but rather he should be taken to the “other building”. I was insenced and shoouted at the workers to get the guy into the casualty ward as he had a faint pulse and unconsious. The workers shouted back stating he could not be taken there “because he was not bleeding!” I’ll be brief, by the time we found a wheel chair and wheeled him to the “other building” the guy was dead! Remember what happened to our president?
    ANALYSIS: We need better engineering control- there should be one main entrance with a properly trained staff triaging ALL patients who come in through the front door. Without that you are left to wonder where to take your loved one missing out on critical time. Has anyone wondered how our late president ended up at the maternity ward as the story goes?

    • Emmanuel, there should be accountability for situations such as you describe. Unless healthcare institutions fall liable for some form of punitive action there will be no incentive to have a proper triaging system or the necessary infrastructural arrangements for emergencies. We must strengthen the regulatory oversight, or create new ones, that will ensure quality of care and responsibility towards the sick. We cannot continue like this. It does not make sense. We are dealing with human lives!

    • Sometimes i think the behavior of some of these personnel is just out of stupidity and ignorance. Life is very valuable and we cannot afford to loose it. I had a similar experience when I had to rush my dad to the Koforidua Central Hospital in the middle of the night. The casualty area was closed. My mom had to bribe the lady issuing the opd card before she woke up from the bench she was sleeping on to do her work. After that when we got to where the nurses were to check his blood pressure and vitals the door was locked. Out of anger, I banged so hard on the door before an angry nurse angrily asked who it was. When she finally opened the door i realised it was one of my class mates from Kumasi Nurses Training. She immediately mentioned my name with a nice voice and asked when I arrived from the USA. I told her my dad was sick and that is when she hurriedly strarted offering her services, but what if she didn’t know me????

  18. The only reason of their behaviour is their numbers. If the nation can have the opportunity to train numberous like lawyers, they will not behave this way. Some of our lawyers do not have cases for a period of time. The time will come soon and very soon and they will fall in the category of our lawyers and the health workers whatever level will search for cases like the lawyers. It is a matter of time. Thnx

    • Charles, too true. However the few that we have must be made to understand that, unlike lawyers, the work they do can, literally and everyday, mean life or death for human beings. So they must be held accountale even now.

  19. As a nurse from Ghana and now working in the states, this has been one of my dreams, that one day I would become the head of Nurses and Midwives Council of Ghana with the intention to create an awareness to patients in Gh that they have a right to healthcare. Also, they can report nurses who are rude to them or show disrespect and their license would be revoked. Because, I feel if you cannot tolerate a sick person you shouldn,t be a nurse. The time to send some healthcare professionals home with no license is NOW…………..

  20. I THINK THE TIME HAS COME FOR DOCTORS,NURSES AND ALL HEALTHCARE WORKERS TO BE REMINDED OF THEIR CODE OF CONDUCT,PRACTICE AND THE PATIENCE CHARTER. I WOULD STRONGLY SUGGEST A SPECIAL VIDEO PRESENTATION FOR A PATIENT’S JOURNEY IN THE HOSPITAL IN CONJUNTION WITH DOCTORS AND NURSES CODE OF PRACTICE SHOWN TO DOCTORS AND NURSES DURING THEIR TRAINING AND WHEN QUALIFYING BY THEIR APPROPRIATE GOVERNING BODIES.