A Matter of Faith (11)



As a recently qualified surgeon and Resident Surgical Officer at the Preston Royal Infirmary in England, I was asked by my surgical chief to look after a local farmer who had surgical obstruction of his bile duct. After three operations by the hands of a not-very-experienced or skilled surgeon, the condition of the patient had reached a critical stage. I requested my chief to offer his far-greater experience and surgical skill to this unfortunate man. The response of the patient was: "You know my inside better than anyone else and hence you must continue with my case”, even though he knew the likely outcome.

While being wheeled into the operation theatre he beckoned me, shook my hand with a parting "Good luck to you, Doc". This was an example of the implicit faith of the British patients in their doctor and the National Health Service in the early fifties. Being a full-time service, there was no monetary consideration in the patient-doctor relationship. This faith was equally justified by the medical and nursing profession as also the rest of the staff.
 Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.