“We have turned doctors into gods and worship their deity by offering up our bodies and our souls – not to mention our worldly goods. And yet paradoxically, they are the most vulnerable of human beings. And because they are painfully aware that they cannot live up to our expectations, their anguish is unquantifiably intense. They have aptly been called ‘wounded healers.’ “ – Eric Segal
I am writing this article not because I think we paediatricians don’t receive the empathy we deserve; it’s just that I feel strongly that we don’t qualify for the criticism that is constantly thrown our way. I often come across posts on social networks from parents addressing support groups and asking if the medicine their doctor prescribed is safe. I have encountered people from the older generations refusing to give up some of their unsafe practices even though we have advised them against it. People don’t hesitate to invest in gold but cringe a bit when they have to shell out money for vaccinations. I always wonder if they do that to their cardiologist or diabetologist.I also feel that medicine is a part time practice for many people who prescribe confidently over the phone and internet without even seeing the child. I know they mean well, but I am compelled to wonder why they cannot trust us. These are the answers I have found and the facts I want to share.
Paediatrics started off as a subspecialty of general medicine but quickly emerged as an independent field because the medical fraternity realized that a child is not a miniature adult. Today we have paediatric surgeons, gastroenterologists, neurologists, and every possible subspeciality.All this is because we have come to realize that children are a unique population. Their bodies grow in dramatic spurts and their needs differ with age. For instance, medicines given for fits in adults are not given to children because it affects their attention and memory. Some effective antibiotics are not given to children because they affect blood and bone formation. Treating a child has consequences which have to be lived with for a long time. The therapeutic environment affects them drastically. Mistakes are costly. If a child suffers needlessly it definitely pricks us medical folk because we know that a family and a future is at stake. Yet paediatricians are accused of giving too many drugs or making too many references. Please ask us why we write them instead of imagining the intentions.