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A doctor from hell at Ridge Hospital

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 Source: Dowuona, Samuel

Samuel Dowuona (dowuonasamuel@yahoo.com)

The first time I wrote an article about my personal experience, it was about the movie industry; and it so happened that my experience was representative of the reality of some Ghanaian actors in their dealings with charlatans in the industry who style themselves as Executive Producers.

This time it is about my experience with the health sector; specifically with a particular senior female medical doctor at the Ridge Hospital.

Initially, I yielded to the pleas of a very good Surgeon at Ridge Hospital and decided not to write this piece, but my professional ethics require of me to uphold the right of the public to know.

Besides, when I saw videos of what some so-called caregivers at the Osu Children’s Home are doing to the vulnerable children, it reminded me of my experience with this female doctor at the Ridge Hospital.

It is the ‘little’ unprofessional behaviours of this female doctor at Ridge Hospital, which grow into the cruelty of the so-called caregivers at the Osu Children’s Home, because we ignore them when they are little.

It gets worse as you read on, so don’t stop in the middle.

In March this year I was diagnosed with some medical condition at the Ridge Hospital.

The first doctor I encountered at the hospital was female, and she requested for some lab test, excluding a Chest X-ray, even though I told her I felt pains in the chest anytime I took in a deep breath.

She rather requested for an abdominal scan, but when I got to the lab, one Dr. Quarcoopome decided to do Chest X-ray and he found that there was liquid around by chest area.

The doctor also concluded it was pneumonia so he recommended that I be put on antibiotics. But on my return to Ridge Hospital, I met another young male doctor called Dr. Senyo, who ran me through a lot of questions and did further examination and discovered it was not pneumonia but plural effusion.

He then pierced my chest with a syringe and pulled out yellowish looking liquid to confirm to me that it was effusion. He asked me to go run a lab test on the liquid and return in a few days for admission and treatment.

On my return to the hospital, Dr. Senyo was off duty so my wife, who is a nurse at Ridge Hospital took me to one Dr. Aduola, a surgeon to recommend to us who to see. That doctor, a very good man, took us to one Dr. Mensah, a white lady.

My meeting with Dr. Mensah was the beginning of my chain of woes at Ridge Hospital. The first impression she gave about herself was when she asked my wife in a very unfriendly tone to ‘sit down!’ before talking to her.

She then turned her attention on me and started asking me the very questions that Dr. Senyo had asked me, the answers of which were written in my folder. I knew that was standard practice so I did not have a problem answering her.

My confusion started when she demanded that I gave ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to her questions and save the story behind my condition.

She, for instance, asked me whether I sweated at night and I answered “it depends”. She was not interested in what it depended on – she came at me with anger; “what do you mean it depends, just say yes or no”.

She then asked me how long I had had the chest pain and I repeated the very same things I told Dr. Senyo; that for more than a year, the pain was around the left side of my abdomen, but within the past one month it had move up to my rib case.

Dr. Mensah then charged again and said, ‘is it one year or one month - be specific – I am trying to help you but you are in a state of denial’. I was amazed at her, so I kept quiet because I knew I had given her the true answer, but it seems she was looking for a convenient answer that will make it easy for her to give me a cosmetic prescription as many physicians do in Ghana and kill people.

In her anger, she said she will not talk to me again so she turned to my wife and asked whether I had fought anybody in the past or had any traumatic experience, and my wife gave her the answer she wanted “no”. But even that, she was not pleased with, and her response was “see, another denial.”

At this point I was boiling within myself because she was talking to my wife in a way that was pushing me to tell her I was a professional like her and if she came to me as a client I would not treat her the way she is treating me and my wife.

Finally she recommended admission for me. Whiles on admission one Dr. Asare was the first to come see me and she was professional about her job. She recommended that the water around my lungs should be extracted. It was a painful experience but those who did it were nice so I was able to manage it.

Second day comes and here comes another pack of woes. Dr. Mensah walks into my room and immediately ordered me to put off my television. Then she greeted me ‘hello’ and I said ‘hi’, and that was the day I got to know that the response to ‘hello’ is ‘mute’ and not ‘hi’. Dr. Mensah questioned why I said ‘hi’. I had no answer for that so I kept mute and looked straight into her eyes to make her know I am not afraid of her.

Then she said I had an attitude so one of the junior doctors should talk to me. I had a pleasant interaction with that young doctor and she took all the information she wanted. Meanwhile Dr. Mensah was chatting with my wife on the side; she said “I learnt your husband is a journalist”, and my wife answered in the affirmative, then she said “ei then I am finished.”

Clearly, Dr. Mensah knew that her behaviour was unprofessional, unethical and everything wrong in the book, but she will not budge. After telling herself that she was finished because I was a journalist, she came back to me again and said “ok, let’s start all over again.” Then she said ‘hello’ and I responded ‘hi’. She giggled and asked how do you feel and I said by God’s grace I am fine. Then she said “so should I discharge you” and I said “you are the professional so whatever you say”. Your guess is as good as mine, she picked an issue with that also, and as usual, I ignored her.

Immediately Dr. Mensah left my room, the young doctors with her came back and apologised to me for her misbehaviour, and I told them I was going to write about her behaviour when I left the hospital because people like her are the reasons Ridge Hospital had a bad name.

But more was to come from Dr. Mensah. She came to my room for a third time and she came to meet me using a device called Triflo, which helps the expansion of the lungs, particularly after the liquid around it had pressed on it for a while. Every doctor who came to my room before Dr. Mensah, recommended that I used that device. Dr. Mensah alone said the device will not have any effect since there was liquid still around the lungs. She could have been right, but the way she rubbished it could make a sick person worse instead of better.

After rubbishing my newly found source of comfort, she asked how I felt and I told her I had some severe pains at a particular area on my back. She then asked me to point and I did, using my left palm, but she insisted that I used my finger instead. Because the pain covered a wider area, I could not point a specific small area with my finger and Dr. Mensah conclude and told me that there was no pain because if there was, I could have pointed with my finger. The younger female doctor with her rather walked up to me and asked me nicely, like a professional physician would do, whether the pain was at the entire area my palm covered and I said yes, and then she recorded that in my folder.

At that point I knew that Dr. Mensah was either forced by her parents into medical practice or she is just a doctor from hell. Everyone called into a particular profession or vocation does it with love and passion and it shows in the joy and fulfilment one finds in one’s job. Dr. Mensah did not come across to me as someone who loves her job at all.

But the worse was yet to come. One morning, a young lady doctor just walked into my ward and took my blood sample without telling me exactly what it was meant for. She also took my folder away, which was very unusual. Prior to that, it was the regular nurses who usually took blood samples from me for test; and they always told me what test they were going to carry out. That night my wife visited and she went through my folder and found that Dr. Mensah had requested for HIV test to be carried out on me without mine or her knowledge. That was when I realised that the young doctor who took a sample of my blood and my folder away had gone to perform the test and written the result clandestinely.

The result was negative; but I wondered what they would have done if it had been positive; whether they would have told me or not.

After I had checked out of the hospital, I asked another doctor whether what they did was professional, and he said it was unethical and in fact illegal. He explained that if I had been an infidel, where I could not be communicated to, then they should have told my wife or whoever took me to the hospital, but they did not do that either. In any case, I could communicate and understand everything then, but as unprofessional as she is, Dr. Mensah decided she was wiser than God, so she can rubbish her professional code and trample upon my rights.

I went on to speak with my lawyer about it, and he suggested that I should sue Dr. Mensah, the young doctor who took my blood sample for the test, everyone involved in that act and the entire Ridge Hospital jointly and severally. My lawyer told me he was ready to take the case if only I was interested. But Dr. Aduola’s plea kept coming back to me, and the Christian in me kept saying “forgive”.

But I want to say here and now that people like Dr. Mensah are the ones who give our health institutions a bad name. I always tell people that if you do not like your job just quit it and stop taking your frustrations out on your clients. If Ridge Hospital was mine and I knew this is how Dr. Mensah is treating patients, I will fire her with no questions asked. She was fortunate that I decided to be a better and stronger person in order to contain her weaknesses and unprofessional behaviour towards me and my wife.

I am reliably informed by loads of workers at Ridge Hospital that she is simply an unpleasant person, and that is not too good for the profession she is in. She may think that her unethical and infantile behaviour is a show of power, but by all standards, I proved to her that I had a stronger character than she did. And if she cares to know I left that hospital with a lot of admiration for the young doctors, Dr. Aduola, the nurses and a few of the staff members, but for her, no iota of respect was left in me for her. END

Columnist: Dowuona, Samuel