Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice Editor’s choice

Images of doctors

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 04 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4219

Rapid Response:

Character and personal force are the only investments that are worth anything.

Dear Jane,

Doctors have varied images in public. While a large majority
still believes that doctors are next only to God in saving
human lives, yet others believe that doctors are the cause
of most human problems. Both views are not accurate, though.
It is only a perception. There is no denying the fact,
however, that the medical profession abets the exclusive
growth of society for its own good, believing that all are
equal but the poor are less equal than the rich.

That is where the problem lies. While poverty is the root
of all ills and the poor pay for their poverty with their
lives, doctors exult in the top heavy, prohibitively
expensive modern hi-tech medical care for the haves which
the majority of people in this world can never access! This
is Mathew Law in reverse: “He who hath shall be given.”

Your editorial avers that “both authors believe that many
people in society’s privileged sectors hold such views [that
the poor are less able, the children of the rich more worthy
recipients of the best university education].Thus the
everyday life of communities entrench the inequalities,
making it ever more difficult to reverse them.") "In our
own lifestyles and choices we often perpetuate or even
aggravate inequality." How true? (BMJ 2010; 341: c4219)

The fourteen “industrialized countries study” has clearly
shown that where there are more doctors (specialists) in
society the health standards go down and mortality increases
and vice versa. (JAMA 2000;284: 483-485)

Adam Smith, the Patron Saint of Laissez Faire, in his book,
The Wealth of Nations, had warned us thus: “All for us and
nothing for others seems, in every age of the world, to have
been the vile maxim of masters of mankind…No society can
surely be flourishing and happy of which far greater part of
members are poor and miserable. It is but equity.” Even if
society has greater wealth it does not mean that every one
there is rich and powerful. In such countries if more than
half the population is illiterate the average life
expectancy will be very low for that class!

Doctors swearing by the Hippocratic oath should strive to
see that this kind of disparity does not get perpetuated to
the best of their abilities. In many countries rich doctors
have the ear of the rich and the powers that be. Many of us
take pride in our expertise with some hi-tech procedure for
the rich that might not touch the lives of even 0.0001 % of
society. Let us try and see how best we could do most good
to most people most of the time. Let us not terrorize
patients with our unpredictable death warrants. Every doctor
must have a healer’s heart within.

"Every man, as to character, is the creature of the age in
which he lives. Very few are able to raise themselves above
the ideas of their times."

Yours ever,

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 August 2010
BM Hegde
Editor in Chief, Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes
Mangalore-575 004, India