T&T – Deyalsingh: Doctors still misbehaving

Dr Varma Deyalsingh, treasurer of the Medical Board of T&T (MBTT), says while doctors in T&T have come a long way, some are still being accused of having sex with their patients, creating drug dependencies, and performing unnecessary surgeries for profit.
Deyalsingh, also secretary of the Association of Psychiatrists of T&T (APTT), was speaking at the bicentennial celebrations of the MBTT, hosted by President Anthony Carmona, at Pier 1, Williams Bay, Chaguaramas, on Wednesday.
Deyalsingh said: “We live in a changing society where doctors are accused of having sex with their patients, creating narcotic addicts out of their patients, performing unnecessary surgeries for monetary gain, sending patients from the government hospitals to their private surgeries, splitting fees with their colleagues, and not attending hospital to give back-up services when called out.”
Deyalsingh said the medical board has had many complaints coming to it from the public, other doctors, and even from a former attorney general.
But, according to Deyalsingh, when these matters are brought to the board’s attention, what some may see as a refusal to act is really an inability to act given the limited powers available to the board.
Deyalsingh said that members of the MBTT cannot act in cases of negligence since that was for the Director of Public Prosecutions and civil courts to handle.
He said the board could, however, ensure practitioners were operating within a code of conduct in a professional manner.
“The challenge is we could only deal with professional misconduct, we can’t go beyond that. Malpractice and negligence must be dealt with by the DPP and court of law.
“In cases of infamous conduct we can reprimand, suspend or even erase the practitioner from the register after it goes to the court. Ethical misconduct, a shortcoming in the level of professionalism or any other misdemeanour like excessive or questionable sick leave to patients we could reprimand them or put a warning letter on their file.”
Deyalsingh said when the board received a complaint, its members deliberated on the matter “and if we are satisfied the matter is grave enough, we could set up an enquiry to prove infamous or disgraceful conduct. We then have three options—censure or reprimand the medical practitioner, suspend the medical practitioner for a period not exceeding two years or erase the practitioner name from the registrar.”
He said the medical board was once thought of as a boys’ club in which they would not touch fellow practitioners, “but a past administration saw it fit to change the landscape allowing non-doctors to be part of the process, hoping for less nepotism in handling complaints against doctors.”
Deyalsingh believes that if complainants receive some satisfaction from the MBTT, then they may not go further into litigation.
He said the board had a duty to educate and train doctors to prevent the backlash that was coming from litigation.
Contacted for comment, Minister of Health Dr Terrence Deyalsingh said it was a complex issue and he was unable to make an off-the-cuff comment on the matter. Questions on the topic were subsequently emailed to him.
Carmona: Recommit to Hippocratic Oath
President Anthony Carmona appealed to the doctors to recommit to their Hippocratic Oath and the tradition of practising good medicine to all manner of people, to always serve with integrity, and to put patients before profits.
Carmona said, “Be philanthropic. That Hippocratic Oath that each of you take on entry to this noble profession of medicine must never fall prey to 30 pieces of silver.” (Trinidad Guardian)

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