Monday, January 7, 2008

On Call through the Phone

Quite some time ago a local newspaper reported that a baby's hand was amputated just because a consultant paediatrician gave instructions through the phone to a houseman to insert an intravenous tube. He did not do it himself and the inexperienced freshly graduated doctor injured the infant’s veins until infection set in causing irreparable damage.

The above case reminded me of my ordeal when a doctor on call was too lazy to attend to me immediately.

The incident happened when I was teaching in Jerantut, Pahang. At that time, I was asked to teach Form 4 and 5 General Science in Malay. As there were no reference books in Malay, I had to do translation on my own. I worked till midnight daily. One night, I was so sleepy that I yawned and disaster struck. My opened mouth could not be closed however hard I tried to press the jaws together. My housemate Tan Cheng Hong attempted to help me but to no avail. In the end he took me on his motorcycle to the district clinic to see Mr Tan, the hospital assistant. He tried to close my mouth but failed too. Then he asked the ambulance attendant to rush me to the nearest hospital - the Mentakab Hospital some 50 kilometres away. So into the ambulance I went with Tan Cheng Hong accompanying me.

The pain at the jaw joints and the bumpy ride thanks to potholes all along the stretch from Jerantut to Mentakab really tortured me for one and a half hours. I felt relieved when we entered hospital grounds but my relief was short-lived. When the nurse reported my case to the doctor on call, he just uttered, "Lodge him for the night." He refused to treat me at once and I spent my most unforgettable night in Mentakab Hospital, saliva trickling down the sides of my mouth and unable to utter a single word.

The young doctor only came the next day. However, even he could not set my mouth right again. Finally he referred me to a dentist. When the dentist saw me, he had a good laugh and attended to me straight away. With deft fingers adjusting my jaws he managed to make my mouth close after some time. I was very grateful to him and thanked him profusely.

I can still remember the ordeal till today.

1 comment:

keeyit said...

This is so called "qualify" doctor in malasyia.