The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Medical tips from patients, not docs

Here’s another response to the growing mistrust in doctors. Patients will soon be able to turn to past patients for advice on how to combat their medical ailments.

A telephone helpline will form the basis of the Calcutta Kidney Club and the Calcutta Prostate Club. The service will soon be operational, to offer support for sufferers through a patient network.

“Doctors will always urge patients to go for treatment, and say that it will not be painful,” feels Amit Ghose, the urologist behind the movement. “Only a patient can provide a real testimony of how painful, expensive — and positive — a procedure can be.”

To break the gap created by “mistrust” and reluctance on the patient’s part to seek treatment, the club concept was floated. Spreading public awareness is also an essential part of ensuring timely treatment for conditions like kidney stones.

“This is a disease of hot climates. And with growing population, this is a growing problem,” adds Ghose, whose year-old Oxford Stone Clinic, on Chowringhee Road, has already treated 400 cases. From changing people’s water-drinking habits to cautioning them about highly dairy-dependent diets, proper counsel can at least prevent the recurrence of stones.

The club will at first consist of five past patients, a dietician and nurse. The patients who have been approached so far have been “very enthusiastic” about the chance to help.

This communication stream will, believes Ghose, also create greater answerability among doctors, and improve the critical patient-doctor relationship.

“Patients need to know more about the medical procedures they are going through. Sometimes, normal post-operative processes are mistaken for complications,” says Ghose, who will soon announce the number to be dialled for those in distress.

Creating awareness about prostate surgery is important as well, says the doctor, as open operations are still the preferred method of treatment, though micro-surgery has been around for over 15 years. This only compounds the fear of treatment, as men are wary that cancer will be detected. But the “slow-spreading cancer” can be treated successfully if detected in time.

In such cases, real-life success stories can be the source of reassurance that doctors often cannot provide.

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