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Lockdown maladies: Diary of a doctor in lockdown!!

Hi all…This is non medical post….. way too different from what i write in this blog, but this lockdown brought out the writer in me or maybe not….thats for you all to judge 🙂

This post is not for people who dont like doctors, bcoz obviously they are not going to like it, once they read it.

I initially was trying to write this in a lighter vein and find some fun in the situation but somehow the bitter underlying truth came out, which we as doctors face in our day to day practice and it became a diatribe of a sort. So please read it and maybe take out few seconds to understand what I am trying to tell (that is if you want to, no compulsion though).

The words expressed in this are my own and do not necessarily indicate any reference to any specific individual….


The post is yet to begin and i had to give so many explanations at the start only. This itself tells about the plight of doctors in India.

Lockdown….who would have expected at the beginning of the year that something like this is going to happen. But it came and it came with full force totally changing the way we lived our lives. Lockdown on one hand brought out the best in the society but simultaneously also brought out the worst in the certain people.

On one hand people were celebrating frontline COVID warriors ( warriors because we are fighting a battle against an enemy about whom little is known) and acknowledging their efforts-be it healthcare staff, paramedics, police personnel and sanitation workers. But on the other hand once again it showed us the disturbing behavior of people towards the healthcare professionals, be it violence, be it barring the entry in societies or even something as important as final rites. But everybody must have read enough of this. I am not on the forefront fighting the illness in the hospitals. I am in the community; maybe or maybe not encountering the illness, I dont know. I want to just highlight something on a more root level.

Lockdown has brought economy to a standstill. Fortunate are those who are still getting paid or salaries even though with cuts. And as with any other working class, doctors too are facing this challenge. I am not talking about a big shot practitioner, who is well established and has long waiting hours outside his clinic or one with a hefty corporate package (I know that they also have worked hard to reach this level). I am talking about an average doctor, which most of us are.

By the time I had made enough mark to establish a decent practice (by decent I mean that I was able to pay the clinic expenses without having to shell out from my savings but it did not mean earning profits…which by the way comes on an average about 5-6 years down the lane, that is if you get a good patient base), the lockdown was announced and that meant to shut down my set up.

For people who are not aware of the expenses for a doctor and instead think that doctor only makes money..I will give a minor briefing about the same.  So my monthly expense list on an average includes:

The clinic rent ( 1 room- with rent equivalent of a 3 or 4 BHK house ), electricity bill (commercial charges), Receptionist salary (doesn’t come cheap in a 3 tier city like mine), cleaning/maid charges, prescription pads/stationary, biomedical waste stuff related, vaccines, equipments and now with the added costs of PPE, sanitizers etc. the prices of which have skyrocketed during lockdown and yes I have not been offered any discount for the same despite being a healthcare professional and various other miscellaneous costs.

So what… one might say!!

What I want to say that we as a society tend to only see that a particular doctor has so much fees, so much earning; nobody knows the reality about how much it takes to run a clinic. In our society doctors are expected to maintain a certain standard and a service which is not upto your mark will not be appreciated.

Another one might say; Ah…so you will make out that money from us..!!

I am not making money from you. I am only asking what is my due. I am providing a service and for that I expect to be paid. Its as simple as that. I dont want to rant about my hard work, sacrifices or so many years of study etc etc. I am sure everybody has heard this n number of times. I just want that I be paid for my work which is providing consultation to people during times of illness.

So why is it difficult for people to follow this simple thing. Why do they expect me to work for free?

Due to lockdown, my clinic was shut but expenses remained the same. My landlord expected full rent, my receptionist expected full salary. I had no choice to pay but without any source of income, so obviously from my own pocket. Government was providing financial packages but there was nothing for people like us. Home loans, school fees and other household expenditures were going on (including maids/car cleaner salaries etc. – because if I wouldn’t have paid them, I would have become cruel in eyes of some people as I was not helping an economically weaker section of the society). Nobody, infact not even a single person offers me any sort of discount because I am a doctor. My bank doesn’t offer me any discount on my home loan rates. For food and grocery and other essential stuff i also have to give whatever I am asked for.  I pay for the things the same way you all pay.

Now comes the interesting part….

With the clinic shutdown, got many people calling for telephonic consultation. Somehow the lockdown became a boon for them, as they had a chance of taking advice without visiting a clinic and paying the consult but it became bane for me as I was expected to dole out advice for free as i was a doctor and I was expected to do charity in these tough times. People in my society expected me to see them at my home at odd hours and give injections because they dint want to risk their health going outside in this time of lockdown. Because I refused so I became a bad doctor who doesn’t care for the people in these times of emergency. Do u really think that I did wrong in refusing them to come to my home. Why should I risk the health of my family by bringing a sick person into my home? No thanks, I am better off being thought of as a unsympathetic doctor.

With the prolonged lockdown, I’m sure almost everybody is into online classes, be it school curriculum, or hobby classes (art, cooking, baking, STEM, music etc.) and now summer camps. Just a simple question to the people out there – Is anybody taking these classes for free? I know people pay huge sums for these classes even though your child might have zero interest in these or for that matter the things which your kid is learning in these classes is just time pass and your kid has no interest in taking these classes to a next level. But when it comes to the health of your child, you want that service free!!  You can pay a huge 1000 bucks for a single drawing class in which your child might not even learn anything but you somehow find difficult to pay even 500 bucks to a person who is advising you for your loved ones health. Isn’t that wrong?

Where there is bad, there is goodness also. All patients are not like this. But this number of good patients can be counted on fingers. And for these few patients, most of the times I myself refuse taking any consult for a minor advice. Its not always about money only because all a doctor needs is a bit of respect for the work they are doing. In India, people expect doctors to do charity when it comes to paying consultation, but you hardly ever hear a good word about any doctor anywhere. Sit with a group of 4 to 5 people, everybody has a story about how their doctor is looting/cheating them. Agreed as with any profession, there are good doctors and there are bad doctors. And now people are becoming distrustful of doctors because of certain malpractices and negative media potrayal. But most of the people I know are genuinely good clinicians and think well of their patients.

Why do we as society fail to see the ease which we Indians have with our doctors including easy access. I have many friends staying abroad who tell me that for a pediatric consult they have to wait for sometimes a week and many of my doctor friends must have had the same experience. But here we take the liberty of calling or messaging our doctor at any time and expect them to reply within minutes even at odd hours. Some even dont want to wait for us to see the message and will call up and ask us to see the message and reply, as if I was waiting for their message only. Whatsapp has become a bane of our lives with people sending continuous stream of messages, pages and pages of prescriptions and reports, pictures (of diapers loaded with potty, vomits and what not), videos (of their child walking, talking, coughing, sneezing and so on) and expecting us to reply.  And this happens only in India.

And then very conveniently, these same people forget about paying consultation and least of all even saying a thank you in turn. Because here, this is expected of us doctors. If sometimes we become shameless enough to ask for fees, pat comes the reply, it was a minor thing only, do we need to pay for this also…? What will you say..We say nah..leave it. Because once again everybody expects us to do charity.

I dont mind doing charity and infact I do also and most of my doctor friends whom I know do the same but for those who require it. As far as i know, charity is done for poor people and not for someone who can shell out loads of money on their clothes, cars, gadgets and weekly outings. I have numerous instances wherein have lost many patients because i failed to do charity for them and failed to entertain them at their desired timings and as per their requirements.

And surprisingly i dont even for one moment regret losing such patients.

People may judge me for what I have written but thats the fact.

Trust and respect goes both ways. If I respect you as a patient, please respect me for what I am.

I dont say I am perfect or I am the best. I dont even say that I know everything. But in my heart, I know I am good and I have fairly good knowledge about my field. I give adequate time to the concerns of the parents and dont rush them. I dont do malpractice or charge extra. So is it not the people’s duty in turn to at least consider this and pay me my due and respect me or is too much to ask for ??

Dr Garima | themoppetsclinic

P.S. I may have  hurt the sentiments of a certain section of people with all this but believe me its the truth. You have to be on other side of the line to see and then judge.

9 thoughts on “Lockdown maladies: Diary of a doctor in lockdown!!”

  1. Dr. Hitesh Kumar Garg

    Absolutely right & 100% true.

    Medical practice is a profession. It can’t survive if made charitable.

    I totally avoid giving medical advices on whatsapp (even in lockdown), except few family members/relatives.

    In situation like lockdown, can give paid advices online, through 3rd party telemedicine app (where processing happen only after online payment).

    In a crisis situation for self, noone (among those who ask free consultation) will come forward for our help.

    1. Truly said Hitesh…we are all alone when need arises. I also have stopped answering WhatsApp consultations. People want free advices but don’t want to pay. They will ring up or message saying its emergency and then keep the phone down after taking advice. Leave about paying, a thanx also doesnt come from most of them.

  2. This is soo true ! Very well penned down.all of us are in this situation and economic cruch ! No charity should be expected and due respect must be given ! Love the blog

  3. Very apt description of today’s doctor’s life… to a certain extent we, ourselves as a doctor community are responsible for all this mess…… due to lack of medical etiquette and professionalism.

    Especially working n Government institution(AIIMS), there is constant stream of patients from relatives and “known to”who will ask for favour. Obilize them 99% of time, but they remember 1% when you haven’t helped them.
    That’s a bitter truth,

    So, what I have realised over the years, it’s better to refuse initially then to repent later.

    Have a Good day,

    1. Thanx Vinod.. Very truly said,,its sad but reality, So best is to do as per your convenience..gone are the times when we used to keep patients needs above us. Because in the end the result matters for them. If its not upto their expectations, they turn their backs and forget all the good you have done for them. Most of the people don’t even say thank you for all the efforts you put in.

  4. That’s an amazing elaboration of what’s being expected all the time from a medical professional in our society!!
    Very well penned down Doc Garima.
    Read the full article and can easily understand what you have gone through and why have you refused in seeing anyone at your place. Definitely being a medico we all know what are the ETHICS but that doesn’t mean we can’t refuse to a patient ( as mentioned above ) especially in this scenario.

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