Case too serious for doctor to treat
I REFER to the letter “How can docs refuse to treat a dying baby?” (The Star, May 18).
I am a medical officer working with the Health Ministry. I can't help but feel a little offended by the strong words used in the letter especially in reference to doctors being “plain lazy” and “irresponsible”.
Let's not speculate on the cause of death of the child as findings of the post-mortem have yet to be released. But from what I understand, the cause of death was suspected to be intracranial haemorrhage (bleeding within the skull).
I have previous experience working in the neurosurgical department and I know how direly urgent the situation can be and how quickly the condition can deteriorate should this be the condition. I have also worked as a locum in private clinics and so I can relate to both sides.
Although I must agree there may be instances where GPs are reluctant to handle medico-legal cases due to the complications of the matter involved, in this case, blaming the death of the child on the doctors at the clinic may not be justified.
The child may have been brought in drowsy and the doctor may have suspected some intracranial pathology. Unfortunately, there is no way a clinic doctor would be able to diagnose an intracranial haemorrhage without a CT Scan. Even so, there is not much a clinic doctor can do even if it were known.
An intracranial haemorrhage requires urgent drainage and evacuation if it is large enough to cause compression on the brain which is only possible in a hospital setting. In view of the urgency, the child had to be brought to a specialised setting.
Please understand this is not a case of an accident victim bleeding externally where a clinic doctor may have been able to provide first aid and stabilise the patient before sending him to a tertiary centre.
I hope the writer is enlightened and will not solely blame doctors for being lazy and irresponsible.