Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Typhoon Pedring

The purpose of suspending classes and office work during a storm is to protect the students and workers from the risk of accidents or any untoward incidents caused by forces of nature. This purpose is defeated when the student or worker still has to go to and from the school and the office and be subjected to the dangers of the storm before they are told that school/work is suspended.

The suspension of classes and work is useless when the students and the workers are subjected to the dangers of the storm when what we want is to prevent these accidents from happening. Imagine a worker having to wake up early at dawn to prepare to go to work. Despite the heavy winds and the rain, she bravely goes out of her house to commute to work. Since the streets are already flooded there are no more jeepneys. She has no choice but to wade in the flood in her high heels into the main highway and take the taxi and spend more than her budget for her fare for the day. The taxi she rides almost met an accident because of the slippery roads. She gets in the office on time but only the guard is there. She learns that work will probably be suspended. Of course, work is suspended. She has to go back home now and probably has to walk in a heavier rain pour, waist deep flood water, and spend extra from her hard earned money. She meets another danger when the strong winds brings with her flying roofs and falling tree branches. Thankfully, she gets home safely all soaked in wet. Or so she thinks. For all her effort that day, it will mean nothing and will not be compensated. The next day, all is back to normal. But she is having fever, cough and too weak to go to work. She had to absent from work and because of that will take a cut from her salary. All because she was not advised early that there is no work!

This short work is a product of angst and disappointment of Nezer A. Soriano

Friday, September 16, 2011

Doctor-Doctor Ethics

This essay is a Call for the Practice of Ethics by Nezer A. Soriano.

Ethics has been one of the common venue of discussion between medicine and theology. This is especially true in matters of medical ethics where the doctor and the patient relationship is at stake. But for today, let me focus in one aspect that is often relegated to the sides by most doctors. Relegated? You might ask. YES! Because most doctors throw out their ethics when it comes to doctor-doctor relationships.

Human pride is one of the pitfalls of human nature. But this is not an excuse to disrespect others. That is why a physician is virtuous enough to know what to do and how to foster good relationship with ones colleagues. Yet, young doctors and even their mentors get drunk of their title as doctors that they forget their ethics.

In the Ospital ng Maynila, the doctor-doctor relationship is amiss. I pray that this is the only place that ethics is an issue. But the reality is, even in PGH, Western Visayas MC and SPMC, ethics of doctors towards fellow doctors are problematic. (Often times a referral from a municipal health officer faces the same issue - added). Maybe these hospitals being government run is a factor to the problem. But that issue warrants another article.

At one time, a patient came in with a referral letter from a family physician for the pediatric patient to be admitted because of Dengue. The pediatrician refused the patient to be admitted because she did not see any indication for the patient to be admitted. The pediatrician may be right and she has all the right reasons for refusing the request for admission. What went out of bounds was her remark against the referring doctor. She commented that the referring doctor is ONLY a family physician and his decisions should not be accepted. Here, the pediatrician is obviously insinuating that the other doctor is inferior to her. More than that, she shows disrespect by maligning the knowledge and the decision of her colleague. Hers is one example of utter DISRESPECT that have plagued the medical practice in hospitals. We, as doctors, have forgotten the basic principle in our code of conduct - that we should work together in harmony and mutual respect.

Another example of disharmony in the workplace of doctors is the referral system in government hospitals. (For more ethical issues young doctors encounter, click here). I will emphasize the government hospitals, because these things rarely happen in the private setting. A surgeon refers his diabetic patient to the internist for control of the blood sugar and clearance for surgical procedure. The internist delays seeing the patient, as a retaliatory act to what he claims the surgeon is doing whenever he refers also for surgical clearance of his patients suspected of having surgical abdomen. The patient is the one suffering from such behavior of doctors. The patient, of course, complains his surgeon to the hospital authorities for not being able to refer and resolve his case quickly.

The most common problem perhaps, leading to the numerous malpractice suits, is the side comments doctors make to their colleagues. An example is the Internist who saw a Pulmonary TB patient who sought second opinion after being seen by a private doctor. The Internist comments to the patient, "do not seek consult to this doctor again. Did you know that it took him several years to finish medicine because he flunked his subjects. Look, he did not even recognize that you have tuberculosis. And why did he give you pulmonary medicines that can compromise your liver. That doctor will just make you more sick." Such comments are unwarranted, but in reality, such comments exist. What virtuous doctor in their right mind, would comment such derogatory remark about their colleague?

In the quest to advance the practice of medicine, doctors have forgotten about their virtues and ethics. Ethics has been neglected for a long time. It is now the time to check the virtues of our doctors. A virtuous doctor can never and will never intentionally hurt his/her fellow human being, regardless if he/she is a patient or a colleague. We can never go wrong with a virtuous doctor. I encourage you to push and demand for our doctors to check their ethics, and be virtuous!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Faith and Beauty

Let's talk something different.

Beauty pageants are usually associated with worldly affairs that focuses on the temporal and physical which is the least concern in religious matters. But let us give an exception to this case because it is related to faith issues.

The question and answer portion in the Miss Universe contest asked Ms. Philippines a faith-related question. The judged asked her, "Would you change your religious belief to marry the person that you love?" Without blinking an eye, she answered with conviction that “I would not marry the person I love because the first person I love is my God and the person loves me, he should also love my God."

Without any bias, the answer showed how deeply rooted and firm is the faith of the contestant. I am tempted to say that Filipinos are like that. But maybe we can generalize further and say that Christians should answer similarly. Without even the need of thinking, our love for our God should be above anything else.

I have heard the argument that God does not mind if you belong to this religion or to that. God's love is still the same. Well, if we are talking about the Christian God then I could agree. If we are talking about a Roman Catholic woman falling in love to a Baptist, then religion is not an issue. Remember both belong to the Christian faith although from different denomination. But if we are talking about a Christian woman falling for a Buddhist, its a different story. But then again, ones religious belief forms and informs that person to the kind of God one worships.

And so, why did the answer of Ms Philippines did not help her win the crown? Yes, I would have loved that Ms. Philippines won but there is a more pressing issue for me here. If for the millions of people who thought her answer (putting God above all else including romantic love) was a bad response to the question then it could only mean that millions of people still do not and cannot accept to put God first in their lives. The world is not yet ready for a principled Christian Miss Universe.

If the answer of Ms. Philippines the reason she won "only" 3rd place, it means we - Christians, has a lot more work to do sharing the Gospel and teaching to love God above all!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


As the world remembers 9/11, the most commonly asked question is, "where were you when you learned about it?"

I remember I was in medical school then. I can still vividly remember that I was in Chowking in Atrium. I was with my friends and we were studying. It was past midnight when my red Nokia cellphone (oh yes, i can still remember the model) beeped. It read something like... "plane hits Twin Towers." I could not remember now who texted me that night. But when I arrived home hours later, I immediately opened my TV and I saw the horror of it all. My heart felt wounded from such nightmare. I remember the next day in class that we spent one whole class just talking about the tragedy that happened. It became closer to us since the sibling of our professor was one of the victims of that tragedy. It became more real as more people shared how their relatives have been victims or were connected to the event and my wounded heart felt more pain.

Over the years, the same thing always come to mind whenever 9/11 comes. The victims... the families of the victims... Those who suffered... The wound is refreshed...

Two years ago, I met someone who was acquainted with one of the suspects. Suspects? Yes, after 9/11 almost any Muslim especially Pakistani are 'suspected' of being terrorists who took part in 9/11. (At least, he said that's how he felt). His brother was one of those suspects brought to US prisons abroad. He asked me, does the world ever think of these suspects? The torture? The families of the suspects? Their anguish?

Oh yes, they are suspects... They deserve to suffer... Do they? Are we not Christians? What makes a Christian? And what should Christians do? Then I remember the Amish Schoolhouse Shootings in Oct 2006 and how the Amish responded...

Now, when 9/11 comes. I do not only remember the victims... I also remember the suspects... Both their families... Those who suffered... Now, healing can happen...