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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 109-110

Patient possessiveness among doctors: A unique Indian phenomenon

1 Alva's Health Centre, Moodabidri, India
2 Department of Medicine, M.R. Medical College, Gulbarga, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission05-Sep-2020
Date of Decision01-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance15-Oct-2020
Date of Web Publication08-Apr-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. B Sadananda Naik
Senior Physician, Alva's Health Centre, Moodabidri - 574 227, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/bjhs.bjhs_90_20

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How to cite this article:
Naik B S, Biradar S. Patient possessiveness among doctors: A unique Indian phenomenon. BLDE Univ J Health Sci 2021;6:109-10

How to cite this URL:
Naik B S, Biradar S. Patient possessiveness among doctors: A unique Indian phenomenon. BLDE Univ J Health Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 9];6:109-10. Available from: https://www.bldeujournalhs.in/text.asp?2021/6/1/109/313367

Dear Sir,

Indian doctors are well known for their astute clinical ability; their excellent bedside manners and hard work have been well appreciated all over the world.[1],[2],[3] Doctors in India not only take care of the ailment of their patients but also play an active role in matters of their patient's family. Indians consider their family doctor as a close family friend and do invite them for all their important family functions. This leads to development of an unparalleled emotional bond between the doctors, patients, and their family members as well. Hence, in the matters of health, the doctor is the one who will be deciding what's to be done and what's not. This unique relation, which is not seen in many parts of the world, has an equally uglier side to it, as well. It is this special bond which leads to the development of a strange feeling of possessiveness among at least a few such primary care doctors, if not all. The doctors with this kind of mind set, will be most willing to treat all the medical problems of their patients themself, irrespective of the type and specialty to which the health problems belong to and even if they find the health problems of their patients are beyond their technical competence. This could lead to undue delay in the definitive medical care of the patients and sometimes could cost the patient his/her life.

Sometimes, they do refer their patients to specialty care due to family pressure or other compulsions but still would like to play a deciding role in the patient management. The patients of these doctors are also to be blamed equally, as they are very reluctant, noncooperative, and non-compliant to the sincere medical instructions given at the new health-care setups. They openly express their desire to consult their primary care doctor before following any medical advice and sometimes this could be utterly insulting to the treating doctors. This is how the primary physician tries to play a dominant role though not in person but by remote control. This pathologic patient possessiveness will not only affect the relationship of the patient with the new doctor but also adversely affect the outcome of the treatment at a new setup.

This problem of this unique phenomenon of patient possessiveness is seen not only among the general practitioners but also in many of the specialists and super-specialist doctors. Here are few examples of such possessiveness them. An obstetrician would be like to take charge of treating any kind of medical problem in a lady patient even after several years after conducting delivery. A thoracic surgeon would be in charge of bronchial asthma patients even though a chest physician is available next door, a neurologist giving advice regarding the management of varicose veins (patient perceives varicose veins as nerves), a physician trying to manage a patient with sinusitis, osteoarthritis, prostate-related symptoms, etc., A more perplexing scenario would be pediatricians treating patients of theirs who have well past their twenties.

The good part of this problem is that this patient possessiveness has nothing to do with the monitory gain or profit. Many of these doctors happily give up their professional fees citing the fact that they are regular patients. The patient and their relatives regularly feed on the ego of these doctors by their usual orchestrated dialogs like, “Only you know and understand this problem and the patient responds only to your treatment, we have tried many doctors but nothing works like yours.” These words of flattering are heard as music to the ears of their doctor. These doctors simply thrive on the respect, importance, gratefulness, and unparalleled faithfulness offered by their patients and their relatives. Some of these doctors could show next level of possessiveness by keeping the medical reports with themselves and prescribing medicines in code language. This will make the patients more and more dependent on the primary care doctor. Though some degree of possessiveness is all essential for the survival of a relationship, a pathological one is a human weakness.

In a traditional Indian family life, the father of a girl child is ever prepared to part with his beloved daughter after marriage. It is advisable to have this kind of mindset for the doctors to avoid the so-called possessiveness. The family doctor should act as a bridge between the patient and the new specialists and play a crucial role as a facilitator in the treatment plans. We doctors should try our best to avoid meekly surrendering to emotional reflections and plan the treatment with the best interest of the patients.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Available from: https://www.pharmatutor.org/pharma-news/doctors-population-in-india. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 20].  Back to cited text no. 2
Available from: https://www.quora.com/Are-Indian-doctors-better-than-their-western-counterparts. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 20].  Back to cited text no. 3


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