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On Being a Doctor |

A Certain Gift, and a Question of Ethics

Shilpa Bhardwaj, MD, MPH
[+] Article and Author Information

From Griffin Hospital and Yale University, Derby, CT 06418.

Disclaimer: This is a fictionalized portrayal of a true event. The time and sequence of events mentioned in the article may not be exact.

Requests for Single Reprints: Shilpa Bhardwaj, MD, MPH, Department of Medical Education, Griffin Hospital, 130 Division Street, Derby, CT 06418; e-mail, mailto:bhardwaj.shilpa@gmail.com.


Ann Intern Med. 2012;156(10):750-751. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-156-10-201205150-00017
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I studied undergraduate medicine at a university in Orissa, one of the eastern states of India. In this primarily rural, paddy-crop state, half of the population lives below the poverty line, with a yearly per capita income equal to about $100. This is one of the most impoverished states in India. Therefore, as an intern, I rotated in an extremely poorly funded state hospital. Unlike other state facilities in the country, the only thing that we could provide free to our patients was medical consultation. We had neither adequate supplies of medication in our pharmacy nor enough equipment in our inventory. Admitted patients had to purchase medications required for their treatment from expensive, privately owned stores outside the hospital. Sometimes we had to ask patients to buy such essentials as swabs, dressings, intravenous catheters, and disposable syringes as well. Not surprisingly, our hospital was a refuge for only the critically ill among the critically poor. People with better means preferred private nursing homes, and understandably so.

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Comments

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Well written
Posted on May 19, 2012
Sumit, Som, Fellow
St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Dr. Bhardwaj, I rarely get the opportunity nowadays to go through 'On Being A Doctor' series but for some reason today it caught my eye; and once on it, I could't keep it down. Although less dramatic in real life, for those of us who have been fortunate to train in similar circumstances, its well narrated here. The emphasis on physicians accepting "gifts" is well taken.

Thank you.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

Re:Well written
Posted on May 23, 2012
Gonzalo, Valdivia, Head, Public Health Dept
P.Universidad Catolica de Chile
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Many thanks for this simple & wonderful gift of reality.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

Fortunate in America!!
Posted on May 26, 2012
Thirumal R, Dubbaka, MD, None
UAMS
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Having trained in the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh in India myself, I could relate to several similar situations during my Med school and internship.

In spite of the deficiencies and complexities of the American health care system, thinking back on times like these makes me feel how blessed people/patients in this country are!

Let us also not forget to help India and other developing countries in whichever way we can, knowing that it can make a big difference and how blessed we are too, to be in the US.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

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