Wednesday, 19 October 2011

I want a female doctor!

Lot of humor posts at a stretch and now i really want to talk something serious. Medicine is one noble profession, that is much sought after everywhere in the world. One in two little kids say with dreamy eyes that they would like to be a Doctor someday. I too had that sky- high ambition till that fateful day i boarded the rail network. You can find a wide variety of doctors these days, starting from the high- end speciality surgeons in super specialty hospitals to those who sell sex pills on late night TV slots. This post is not about doctors as a whole, but a rather sensitive issue that Indian women seldom discuss.

India boasts of thousands of qualified doctors- with Indian degrees and the lesser mortals with Russian degrees. So, how does it feel when you end up in a hospital for delivery and the gynecologist about to examine you is a male? Yes, you read it right- a male gynecologist? Or how it would be to consult a male radiologist for a mammogram? A male radiologist  who examines female genitalia? Though female gynecologists are aplenty, women often find themselves in tough corners when it comes to taking medical help in extreme cases. India is not a country that has limited medical aid and so why should the women compromise?
Genital examination by a male physician, in a 'compromising' position


We are a very conservative society and so it irks me when it comes to women consulting such male doctors in hospitals providing health care, especially in Government run hospitals and departmental health units. You can all it medical ethics, professionalism or anything under the sun, but a MALE IS A MALE! And there are few perverted men who put Hippocrates to shame...You must look at the way they handle their stethoscopes when they check women! The very thought of it is sickening. Will there be a law that allows only female doctors examining and treating women patients when the diseases pertain to gynecology and even breast examinations? Or atleast the patients should have the right to decide the sex of the gynecologist they would like to consult. Nobody is forcing women to see men doctors, but it just happens that hospitals- the super specialty ones that boast of infrastructure, state-of-the-art technological expertise plainly say they don't have a female radiologist. How irritating! Imagine the plight of millions of women who are deprived of medical care, just because they cannot shed their inhibitions in seeing a male gynecologist or radiologist. Is it logical to expect the uneducated and underprivileged women to get medicare?

Of course, the case is otherwise too. It might be unnerving for a few men too, when being asked to cough out and at times a prostate examination by a female doctor also has the same effect. So, why should we put up with something that we don't want to happen? Again, i am not trying to say here that every doctor on the block is sex- starved, unable to control their libido. This is just a plain problem of " Why can't I see a female doctor, if that is what i want?" It would be better if departmental hospitals have male as well as female doctors when it comes to such sensitive physical examinations and treatments. There are Government hospitals and primary health centers that have a single male/ female doctor taking care of everything starting from a delivery to mammogram. Probably that might be the reason why most rural women shun these hospitals.

Let there be no bullshitting saying- this is an insult to doctors of the world and all that blah, blah...How many of you know the unfair advantage doctors take on such unlucky women? Whether there is a chaperone or no chaperone, their sexual apparatus goes on an overdrive, sensing helpless victims. Sexual Boundary Violations ( SBVs) have burgeoned at an alarming rate in India-  which include unnecessary physical examinations, inappropriate touching, sexual jokes with patient, sexual touch and finally there are cases of sexual intercourse too...Read this study published in Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. Unless the doctors try to get their medical ethics right, this problem will be persistent in Indian society. And will the Government bring a bill to say- " Women doctors for women and male doctors for men"??? That is a million dollar question.


Pic courtesy- wikipedia


61 comments:

  1. I think it's not practical. If such a law imposed, in an emergency case, male doctors would be reluctant to consult females. The consequence will be fatal. May be even the death of patient.

    Nice and thought provoking post.
    Regards

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  2. This is always a much debated subject.
    It is agreed that comfort level of female patients would be high if examined and treated for certain medical problems by female doctors.Where female doctors are available, patients should be given freedom of choice.

    But in a country where basic medical facilities, even primary health centres, are not available in the rural sides and where mortality of women at child birth is high with many opting to illiterate and ill equipped midwives,to talk of gender preference in the choice of doctors looks rather odd.

    It can be made compulsory that a female nurse and a relative of the patient be present during examination or delivery.This would lessen mischief by a small percentage of male doctors.
    The doctors are professionals trained to deal with patients with decorum.But bad eggs are there as in every profession.

    Caution is the watchword.Women should lodge complaint with police without embarrassment against erring doctors along with corrobarative evidence of those present during examination.
    Punishment should be severe to deter others.

    It should be made a rule that male doctors should not insist on seeing female patients alone without the relatives and a female nurse being present.

    A sizable percentage of seats in medical insttitutions should be reserved for women.

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  3. Well if that happens it sure would be a bliss.. you see they dont allow husbands in maternity ward in some hospitals but all other male staffs are welcome (right from wardboy till male gynecs)??? thats really absurd..

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  4. as said by others in the previous comments, enforcing through law in general will have its disadvantages where people in need of emergency medical attention will be affected. The law should exclude emergency situations. The law can be either enforcing only female doctors to do the examination or it can enforce the presence of spouse/parents/relatives during the examination.

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  5. @ Shukoor- Welcome to my blog. Thanks for the visit and comment. I think it would be better if women have the CHOICE- to select which doctor they would like to see. A general gynecological examination is not life threatening, i hope:)

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  6. Dear KP, thanks a lot for the elaborate comment. I agree with what you say on special reservation seats for women doctors in medical colleges. The presence of relative and chaperone must be made mandatory! When there are scores of doctors who mint money by private practise, why aren't doctors willing to take up practise in rural areas? What happened to the law making doctors work in rural areas compulsory? I agree with what you say that women must have freedom of choice when opting for a doctor. The only thing that i wouldn't feel right is how would women lodge complaints against erring doctors....This is again a bane in Indian society, women never speak up against such sexual excesses- be it at home, office or hospitals...

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  7. Don't you think this is gender discrimination against males? It certainly is.

    For what it's worth, every patient whether male or female has a right to choose their doctor. If don't like a doctor - walk out!

    Conflict of interest - I am a male would be doctor.

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  8. Dear Hema, thanks a ton for your comment. You rightly pointed out- yes, husbands can't enter a labour ward in many hospitals, but what about the other doctors and ward boys? I was unlucky to watch once, a female patient in sedation, wheeled out of a surgical theatre with almost her upper torso open, after a surgery. That too curious bystanders peering on! Imagine what the woman would feel if she had known how she was brought out of the OT? Is it wrong to be dignified???

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  9. Siva, thanks a ton for your comment. Welcome to my blog:)Your take on this subject is good- yes, i would agree now, this law must exclude emergencies. And yes, we would be definitely happy if such examinations or treatment is done in the presence of a Family Member accompanying the patient. Great points you made!

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  10. @ Debabjyoti- Thanks for the comment and visit. IF ONLY WE WOMEN HAD THE CHOICE OF WALKING OUT, we wouldn't be stuck up with male doctors. And i wouldn't agree with it when you say it is gender discrimination against men. Read the post again, the portions where i mention about doctors of other sex conducting a prostate examination...This is definitely not male discrimination, this is an effort to bring out a tricky issue seldom discussed...

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  11. This certainly is discrimination. Let me put it another way - some muslim jihadists hijacked and flew two planes on the twin towers. Thus there should be a law preventing muslims from getting in planes except in emergencies! Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? Well it's the same thing you are suggesting, just replace muslim jihadists with male doctors and hijacking planes with sexual harassment.

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  12. This is a very pertinent issue that you have raised. In our culture it is very unlikely that a woman would seek medical help from a male gyanaec. I am not sure if any men opt for this specialization in our country. But I was told by a friend whose husband is in the army that she delivered her first son under the care of a male obstetrician- apparently in the army there are few women doctors and obstetricians even fewer. Sometimes I wonder if women doctors treat us with respect when they examine us? Most often we are not treated with the respect we deserve even when a woman examines us. You should hear some of the awful comments the nurses make in labour rooms! I think if there is a caring doctor that should be enough. Hippocrates oath is an the basis for all medical practitioners if they chose to ignore it and misbehave we need to take them to task..! But personally I am not sure how I would react to being examined by a male gyanaec - a female one examining me is bad enough!

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    1. Dear Meera, as for your comment that you are not sure if amy male opts for specialize in O&G; let me confirm that there are many emminent gynocologisy who are male in kolkata the city where I live and women in droves from nearby states(read jharkhand and Bihar ) flock to them for treatment. If nudity is these ladies shouls not pay through their mouth and get their modesty auctioned!!

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  13. @ Debabjyoti- I am afraid you don't look into the problem or its root. Equating this issue to Muslims and terrorism is not correct. Ask any of the womenfolk in your friends circle and family- are they willingly going for one such medical examination by a doctor of the opposite sex. Let me know what they say next. And the matter dealt with is not fictional, it is fact- please go through the IMA journal that i have linked above...

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  14. Dear Meera, thanks for the comment and i have to agree with most of what you say, starting from how thw women doctors treat the patients to the nurses who yell in the labor wards. In fact i have seen one nurse shouting at the writhing woman saying- " are you the only woman in the world giving birth?" Sadly, healthcare in India is one such sector that needs grave revamping, IMMEDIATELY!

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  15. The example I gave is perfectly analogous to the topic at hand. That you disagree only shows the irony of your position.

    As for whether it is fact or fiction - I have plenty of first hand experience, thank you.

    As regards the article in the journal you have linked, it is not possible to evaluate it in this comment. However, I have put up a post at my blog where I deal with the article. You can have a look if you feel like it. Here is the link - http://nrsmedic.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-want-female-doctor-well-no-body-is.html

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  16. Gosh, I actually never thought about all this, may be because I am yet to cross any of these stages myself.. Yes but definitely, I agree everyone deserves a choice and with the culture system prevalent in our country, your post and the points that you have raised make sense a lot more..

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  17. Dear Arti, thanks a lot for your comment. Yes, everyone- in fact every woman, deserves a choice:)

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  18. How I missed spotting your posts all these days? I am wondering.
    I agree with you.
    Female for a female and male for a male would be the best scenario. But with known scarcity of doctors, probably all will not get an option to choose.
    But, when I had to choose a gyanaec, I could choose a woman. And THANKFULLY, the radiologist, the ward-girls and helpers in the labour room were women.

    Many do say doctors is a doctor, gender should not matter. I have not understood that. Probably, when there is an URGENT need, this applies. We wont damn care about the gender.
    I will dig more of your posts..!

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  19. Well written but sadly one sided again! I am completely pro choice and would be the first in line to champion a cause that would allow people to choose their gynaecologist.
    Coming to the practical side of things...Medicine is not an easy profession to get into in our country. There is no financial aid whatsoever, which means, almost no rural participation once degrees have been obtained. This is something the government has to look into. Compensate well enough and most doctors would gladly go back to the villages they've come from. Remember, most of our medical colleges are filled with non urban doctors who end up working in the cities to support their families.
    Secondly, most hospitals would employ doctors based on appropriate interviews and skill set. It's not their fault if there in't a female gynaecologist on the team. Would you prefer a lesser skilled but female doctor to treat you?
    Again, I am pro choice and would love for the ideal scenario to happen.

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  20. I do agree with Meera, it does not sound practical. I believe, doctors are beyond this boundry line - either male or female. Even surgeries are being conducted by a team of doctors of both sex!

    If we enfore law, we need to corss certain special formalities, it may include an approval of police official, to confirm it is really required to be attended by a doctor of opposit sex! Then the "darm" defined to a doctor becomes fake, the doctor needs to follow the law instead of treating the patient of opposit sex! It may not help us.

    However, we can check it out the availability of female doctors for such inspections or treatments, it is our own option. Once this market (hospitals) know the secret of more female patients for a particular hospital, surely they will make it available for you!

    Time is another important factor, if I have to travel for 20 KM and wait for 5 hours (beyond appointment) to consult a lady specialit doctor, I will opt for a male doctor, who is doing such treatment, close by and ealisy accessible!

    When my brother has gone for a complete medical check up in a private 3 star hospital, he found the female ECG technician (of around 20 years old) stunned off for a couple of minutes when he removed his shirt! Just blaming male doctors may not be correct.

    Keep your horn ON cloud nine!

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  21. Society ills can not be cured by law. Did i not hear that more than too often just few months back. But having said that, you have raised a really important and sensitive topic. Discomfort of a female patient to consult a male doctor is possible and aggravated due to doctors who fail to honor the code of ethics. My views are
    - All patients should have a right to choice. But what if there is no doctor and there is emergency. I think a well defined code of conduct, a mechanism to lodge a complaint easily with Hospital / Police, and allowing a chaperone during examination (if patient wants) could help. Ofcourse this needs to be supported by education of patients on their rights as well... who should be in first place be aware of what they can seek / demand for their comfort and protection.

    On another note, I wonder how disgusting and painful it would be for those clean doctors who are doing service to society in harsh conditions like village to stand up to general scrutiny.

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  22. What ever it may be, I dont want to show my body to any male except my husband! Women who dont have any concern on this - let them go to Male doctor! What do you say CN?

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  23. @ Pranab Chatterjee- Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on the issue raised. I do agree scientific thinking may not be my forte, but please go through the comments in my post. See if one woman has spoken against what i have written. IT IS MY BLOG and if you don't have the patience to go through it or the stench is too much to bear, you can shut the door and leave! And ignorance is sometimes a bliss, rather than acting " I know it all, but won't accept".

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  24. Dear Sahana Rao, welcome to my blog. Thanks for the comment and compliments! Yes, i agree with what you say, in emergencies, we cannot wait for a female doctor to arrive...but in case of regular examinations, we must be allowed to take a companion with us. Most people are not aware that ESI and Railway hospitals work with minimal strength of female doctors. The available doctor is a male and the women are left with NO CHOICE...for dearth of money in a private treatment. All i ask is, is modesty and dignity the right of the rich and mighty??? Do visit more often:)

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  25. @ Techknowdoc- thanks a lot for your lovely comment. You have made a very objective observation here. Getting into medical profession is not easy in India and with the limited seats and lack of good pay package, doctors are pushed to work in urban areas. Government must take necessary steps like increasing the seats in govt medical colleges and providing sufficient pay to the doctors working in rural areas- a rural area allowance would be better. But regarding the lack of female gynecologists, do you mean to say women lack the skills??? Strange, for i have seen scores of lady doctors practicing privately!

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  26. You are right to the point that freedom of choice should be there...but i guess a rigid law isn't feasible...

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  27. Dear Janaki, thanks for the comment. This is not about women who have the choice of a female doc over a male doc. This is about those who don't. Those women who have no money end up in Government hospitals that provide whatever is available and departmental hospitals that require permission from male doctors for medical leave. Well, i don't say women can't see a male doctor. It is just that they must have a choice. If a woman wants to be examined or treated by a male doctor, it is her wish. But if someone wants to have treatment from a female doc and retain their dignity- let them have the choice!

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  28. @ Mayank- thanks a lot for your comment on a sensitive issue. Your comment is well thought out and balanced. Yes, we need a mechanism and a well defined code to deal with this. All i say is, we have to sit up and take notice of this issue rather than going on a denial mode. Again, generalising doctors here MUST BE PAINFUL, especially those who ARE sincere. But we can't let go the rotten eggs in the system to pollute it...Thanks again, Mayank!

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  29. I do not have any problems with your right to choose... what I do have a problem with is your assertion for basing sea-changes based on your gender bias. Choose whatever doc you want to, it is NOT a big deal, but, in the process of doing that it is ridiculous to imply that doctors are horndogs!

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  30. @ Veronica- thanks a lot for the visit and comment. I appreciate what you say- yes, all i ask is let us women, have a freedom of choice.

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  31. @ SUB- thanks for your visit and comment here. And its nice you agree that women must have a choice. But why can't it be brought under a proper set up and legal framework? Lok Pal might have been a mad man's dream if the 'aam admi' had not woken up from his slumber!

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  32. @ Pranab, thanks again for your comment and acknowledging that YOU don't have a problem with OUR choice of doctor. I have spoken time and again about the bad apples only and have not generalized doctors a whole.

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  33. I agree with Pranab Chatterjee. I'm transgender, I've had my various bits examined by both men and women doctors and, funnily enough, they've always been very professional about it. Even if they mostly have trouble getting their heads around what I am.

    I want my doctors competent. End of story.

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  34. I don't think there should be a law because by that rationale, if a woman prefers seeing a male doctor or vice versa, she can't. Rather a choice in the matter is a good thing. I have a friend who had a male obstetrician for her second child and preferred him to her previous female doctor for her first one. She thought the male doctor was more understanding. It would be impractical to have the law you suggest.

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  35. Sometimes it's embarrassing to discuss women's health issues, even a minor thing like the menses with a male doctor.I leave it to my husband to do all the talking and explaining when I encounter problems regarding my body and health.

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  36. Dear Psychbabbler- thanks for your visit and comment. A law is needed that makes presence of a relative of the patient compulsory in examination and treatment wards. And a CHOICE of female doctor must be given for women who DO NOT have the privilege of walking out...

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  37. Dear Aynzan, yes, i was on the same block too...I can understand and empathize with all women who feel the same way. Thanks for the comment:)

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  38. @ LazyJayH- Its nice to see your comment here, on this issue. Thanks. If you have no issues over which doctor you see, it is perfectly fine with me. Not a problem. But, here we speak of people who are embarassed and subject to silently suffer the injustice. End of Story.

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  39. You have raised an interesting point but most men would anyday love a female doctor..ha ha they would love to show everything.

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  40. Dear Alka, LOL at your comment! Thanks for the visit and comment here:)

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  41. Hi, thanks for the kind words.
    Please don't misunderstand. I, in no way implied that female doctors aren't skilful! I wad just pointing out that there are far less female gynaecologists in some hospitals. It depends on the choice of speciality post Mbbs. The same problem comes up in Dermatologists!
    Another point I wanted to make was that ethics demand that all male doctors must have a female attendant while examining a lady. There its no such thing for a lady doctor examining a gentleman! Or as Pranab pointed out for the gay population!

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  42. I am first time on your blog and agree 100% with your views.. It's not just about illiterate rural women but even highly educated, modern women want some privacy from males at least when it comes to such sensitive issues.. And i am sorry to say male is male, be a doc or whoever.. only rare who treat female patients with real professionalism.

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  43. Recently, i was supposed to go for a gynecological exam at a top hospital in Nigeria. I freaked out when i found out that their gynecologists were all men and ended up not going. Not saying they weren't qualified enough, i just felt really awkward about it. So i totally get where you are coming from.

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  44. Well said V...Welcome to my blog:) Very true that you say women are sensitive in this issue. Only that the rich have the option to walk out. Thanks for your comment and visit.

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  45. Dear Mimi, thanks for that understanding. This is what i would like to have from women. I can guess how hospitals in Nigeria would be- dearth of qualified Doctors, you see...Good to see you back here:)

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  46. her majesty. i happend to read ur blog aft a v long time.. but i did nt tke too much time to think b4 commnting. so it may b half baked.. how ever...
    1. I agree wit ur view totally .. our home town dont hav a lady doc until 3 -4 yrs back. I heard abt the ladies in our vicinity (married, unmarried,30+ or 40+ does nt married).. one doc made tat lady to sit inside his cabin for almost an hr for jus routine check- up and aft tat he went on talking and tat lady doesnt know what to do....

    2. One doc has got a Unofficial second innings and had built a bungalow for her

    3.One doc is famous for geting caught romancng his assistants.. and end up paying huge sums...

    4.How ever in Multi-speciality hosps like u mentioned .. usually docs come frm other hospitals fr routine check-ups and diagnose it ...the inhouse docs wer all by-standers i think......

    5.even now in villages ther ar ppl who wer afraid of givin ponnu to doctors and lawyers... im able to strike some conection bet the conservative fears and ur blog..( as it may contain some thing valid stmt ))
    rgds

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  47. A very thought provoking post and brings a genuine problem in focus! Very well written and hope the opposite sex have this choice in a country like ours where there is no dearth of skilled professionals

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  48. Dear Anonymous- welcome back! I have been waiting for your thorough analysis.
    case1: Yeah, i know there is acute shortage of lady docs in our area. My mom had to travel all the way 60 kms to see a female gynaec:( As for male docs unwanted talking- may be the was lonely in a remote place!
    case2: unofficial second innings? LOL!!! Have heard about him already:P Docs from our place- they never fail to amuse us:P
    case3: Ha...this is the most common disease the docs treat;)
    case4: obviously yes...
    case5: On the dot! Especially to docs because our people are yet to come out of their shells and it will take a long time:(
    Thank you for the comment, mate!

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  49. @ Rahul Bhatia- Thanks for the visit and comment. Welcome to my blog:) Yeah, i feel this is a genuine problem. But there is acute shortfall of female docs in rural areas and it must be addressed immediately.

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  50. If I am in need of medical care, I will look for competency and professional ethics. But I will always prefer my gynecologist to be a female. As a patient, I should have the right to choose what I want and what I don't.

    But do we need another law to enforce values? I don't think so!

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  51. A point well-expressed. If any among you women reading this post are from Goa, I know of a female gynaec who could be of medical assistance if the need arises. This is all what I can say.

    This is the first post this young man, a journalist, has read on your blog and who really likes your blunt style of writing.Appreciative in fact.

    More POWER, Be With You !!

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  52. @ Linhy, thanks for stopping by)

    @ Purba- Thank you for your balanced comment. Yes, it is indeed based on our value system, but we do need basic health care reforms to bring more poor and rural women into the healthcare net!

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  53. @ Basil- Thanks a lot for your visit and comment. Welcome to Cloudnine! And thanks for being so condescending and kind with your comment, most men who have commented above have not been so... Nice to have you here, dear budding journalist:) Do visit more often!

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  54. Visit more often I would anyways, but thx for letting me know. Been your follower last few hours now. Will keep an eye on your posts as they come in and will read the older ones too :)

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  55. Great! thanks for the share!

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  56. code of medical ethics says that every patient has a right to get treatment in a respectful manner. still some people (mostly docs) feel that disrobing their patients shamelesslt in front of even third grade male staff like OT techs and ward boys is not disrespectful for a lady. there is definately a problem with the attitudes of medicos in our country. they are so arrogant they never listen to their patients nor care for their sensitivities. how cleaning of intimate organs of an unconscious lady by a male ward boy is justified i dont know.only strict rules regardinr treatment and handling of female patients can help.

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  57. i am currently undertaking ivf treatment and luckliy up till now i have been able to see female doctors for all of my internal scans. i have now been told that i must have another vaginal scan over the weekend but can only be seen by a male doctor. i immediately said i wanted a female and would be happy to wait all day to see one and was told " sorry but no female members of staff are working during the weekend". i said i didnt want to come and could i be seen first thing on monday morning and i was told that it could jeprodise all of my treatment and could result in a failed cycle (which i would then have to repeat and would probably face the same the same problem) therefore i had no choice. i think this is awful treatment. i was abused at the age of 14 by a male doctor and therefore have a HUGE fear of them. now i have no choice but to completely panick and worry over my next scan in an already very trying time. it is not fair that a female is not availble at all and i believe that the health care system needs to put something in place so that (especially in these types of areas of medicine) that a female is available daily. it is not fair that i have been put in this situation and im sure men feel the same way in a private situation where they have no choice but to be seen by a female. in emergency situations i understand the need to use which ever doctor, male or female, that is available but for regular treament centers where they are aware of the issues that a particular gender doctor can have on patients a choice should be given. something needs to change!!!!!

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  58. I think it's not practical. If such a law imposed, in an emergency case, male doctors would be reluctant to consult females. The consequence will be fatal. May be even the death of patient.

    Nice and thought provoking post.
    Regards

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  59. I think India should be make change for women that without her permission male doctors or ward boy should be not entry in the maternity room at the time of baby born

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