Crisis Medicine – The Way of Life in India
There is no question, everybody in India waits till last moment for crisis to happen and then people run to either doctors or hospitals. It is understandable why Indian community does this. The foremost reason being the very strong mistrust on doctors all over the country. There are no uniform standards and no check-and-balance. Situation is improving but how long it will take for a complete change, we do not know about that.
Media is doing a wonderful job, but they are preoccupied with politics, and law & order. These are also very important topics. Unless and until, we have a neat and clean political system and a very good law & order, things will go wrong. At present, it is very difficult to questions our colleagues. I would like to say that most of our colleagues are very good people. They come from good families. They are highly educated. But they are also caught up with this fast-changing environment for everyone in India. When it comes to money, sky is the limit.
Few days back I saw a nice cartoon in Hindustan Times, pretty much covering half the page. I was totally taken aback. There was a wife pulling her husband’s ear and telling him, “How come Khuranaji’s house bigger than ours?” That essentially explained the motto of our Indian culture. Although it has always been like this and I do not find anything wrong with it, but if we all follow the rules, then we all will be benefitted, and we can really have a very good give and take of services.
One time when we were having a family get together in Midwest, United States and while we were on our way, my wife got a message that her brother-in-law collapsed and only his daughter was there. The daughter was crying over the phone, so my wife became very sad. In that situation, his daughter called 911 and they took him quickly to the hospital and managed him on the way. For 24 hours he was in ICU and his blood pressure was very low. For 24 hours the risk was very high but, in a day or two he walked out of the hospital and he is doing very well now. When this incident happened, I had just returned to USA from India. The thought was running in my mind that if this would have happened in India, he could have never make it.
One day while working in my medical office ‘Ash USA Mini Medicine City’ in Gurgaon with my colleague Dr. Ahuja when a lady came in and she collapsed. The whole staff tried to manage her and made her lie down. We tried to call hospital for the ambulances. Two of the hospitals did not pick up the phone while two of the major hospitals said that all ambulances were out. One hospital did agree to send the ambulance and we were expecting the ambulance to reach within an hour. It was already late in the evening and at that time only 2 or 3 people were working in our office.
After some time, the woman started becoming conscious. Her vital signs started getting stabilized, but it took 2 to 3 hours for ambulance to come. Even when ambulance went to the hospital, I was given an understanding that nobody gives way to the ambulances and the ambulances have to fight the traffic. They made it back in 30 to 40 minutes. The whole process took almost 4 to 5 hours. So, it was a sheer luck that the lady survived and if it would have been a heart attack, we would be having 5 minutes or less to manage it. Based on the recommendations of the cardiologists in USA, the government has taken some very dramatic steps for such scenarios. I have mentioned about these steps in our Add15Years books and it is easy to adopt those steps in India also.
For a scenario in managing a medical condition, if one doctor is saying Rs.300 and another is saying Rs.3000 for a very similar scenario (please note my words, not the exact scenario but for a very similar scenario), then we need to analyze and resolve this discrepancy. Bottom line is that the information required for the management of a medical situation, we can easily make you spend Rs.25,000 when we can get the same information in Rs.2500. What we lack in our community is the judicious use of limited resources available to us.
Now I would like to talk about the importance of proactive approach in life. I bought a flat in Gurgaon several years ago and when I was doing Asha USA pilot project, I needed money. So, I discussed with my family and we decided to sell the house. When I gave notice to our tenant residing in that house for last 8 years, he was very resistant to leave the house.
In USA, if you give a notice you can have your house back the next month or you can lock the house. So, I thought that probably the same rule applies 20 years down the road in India too. I pretty much picked up a fight with the tenant as I had already taken the so called “bayan”, but I was confused the new owner will not give me money or take that house under their control unless it was unoccupied.
So, I decided to consult an attorney, and everybody said, “No, No, No!!! You do not need to consult an attorney”. But as I said I strongly believe in a proactive approach and everybody kept saying, “You will spend lakhs of rupees and you will not get anywhere”. To be very honest, when I discussed with the attorney and they clearly explained me that taking the person to the court will not help at all. It will just delay the whole thing by three or more years. They did not charge me a single rupee for the advice and then they explained me the reasons also for how the things work in India at the present.
So, l accepted the fact and used the only approach that would work. I gave Rs.2 lakh to the tenant from my pocket and told him that, “Here are the Rs.2 lakh. l am sorry l picked up a fight with you. If you vacate within one month, Rs.2 lakh will be yours and if you do not, then you will not get a single rupee and l will have the keys of the house within 2 weeks”.
Why this story? This is what l mean by proactive approach.
We should not hesitate to consult doctors, attorneys and chartered accountants for being proactive in our lives. Waiting for a crisis will cost us more money and time rather than if we try to seek information and take preventive steps.