Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dancing With Dr Death

New Straits Times: Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009
Bungling US doctor charged in Australia.
When I read this news in NST and later read the event from major Australian online newpapers - I found some similarities with what happened here about 20 years back.
In the late 80th and early 90th, there used to be many expatriate (foreign) doctors in Malaysian hospitals employed by the goverment to overcome shortage of specialists in this country. Many of these people came here from countries which were generally 'poorer' than Malaysia. You can't expect doctors from UK or Australia to come here since their income in their home country is much higher than here. Since the salary we paid them was relatively low, we couldn't expect to get first class specialists. Bak kata pepatah: You give peanuts, you get monkeys ! Jadi ramailah yang datang ke sini buat-buat pandai, ada yang datang dengan 'blown-up CVs'. Ada seorang tu, dalam CV pernah buat lebih 1000 endoscopy, tapi bila pegang OGDScope, nampak sangat tak tahu!. Every thyroid operation, blood loss would be more than a litre. I still remember very well; few medical officers 'diverting' cases to other surgeons whom they believed were more competent. I have assisted a surgeon doing esophagectomy - after the surgery I thanked him for allowing me assisting him although I was not in his team; I said "thanks sir, this is my first esophagectomy", he said "thanks to you, this is also my first, I choose you because I saw you opened a chest before". Laa, patutlah dia sungguh-sungguh suruh aku belah dada kawan tu!
I believe those era has long gone; we are now having many capable doctors. Some of our hospitals are the best in the region; for example the IJN. But recently the cycle might have come back. With prosperity, more private hospitals were opened. More specialists moved from the public to the private sector, leaving the public hospitals short of senior doctors. Again the vacancies are filled with foreigners.
Janganlah pisang berbuah dua kali...... The goverment mungkin perlu ingat .... you give peanuts, you get monkeys. Sorry !

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hirschsprung Disease

Hirschsprung disease is a disease seen in neonates where congenital absence of special nerve cells in the rectum called ganglion cells resulting in the failure of the that segment of large intestine fails to function. Newborns fail to pass meconeum, and they are diagnosed and operated by paediatric surgeon as soon as possible to save them. A very small percentage of children born with this disease might survive with chronic constipation. This is usually when the affected intestine is very short; short segment Hirschsprung disease. Rarely they live beyond that and into adulthood untreated. This is what I am highlighting today.

In the last 20 years of my practise, I have seen many such patients, 16 to be exact. These people was never brought to seek treatment by their parents when they were small kids. Some was forced by their teachers and friends to seek help because they were smelly with overflow incontinence - cursed busuk, tak tau basuh punggung ke?

This is an intra-operative picture of a segment of a large intestine (rectum) in a 33 year old policeman with Hirschsprung disease. (I once joked to a colleague; I removed a cat that accidentally went into the man's rectum while he pleasured himself with the animal ! )
He had a laparotomy and colostomy done in a nearby hospital when his colon perforated. He was then referred to me for the definitive surgery called Duhamel operation, and later closure of the colostomy.
The point is - our peoples wait till the last minute to seek treatment. If they had done so earlier; they would have led a normal life. But they rather wait and suffer the consequences; in this disease - chronic constipation, abdominal distention, overflow incontinence (ke mana pergi busuk bau taik) and if unlucky enterocolitis and death.
Ini sebut je operation, tak payah lah. Tunggu besar lah; bila besar yang senang dah jadi susah. Apa nak jadi !!!