How should we treat our patients..?

How not to Treat  

Ok, yes I am self-righteous but sometimes we have to be self-critical and reflect on some of the practicalities of helping people and being responsible and ethical in the way we treat them. The letter below was written in 2002 for the Homeopathic Times. Gladly things have hugely improved since then.

A General Practitioner (family doctor) is not at liberty to disappear for any length of time without providing adequate cover as it is unethical. If a G.P. did take off without providing a locum, more than a few Homoeopaths would be willing to hang him or her. However, the same applies to Homoeopaths who are registered members of the Irish Society Of Homoeopaths.

Yesterday a lady phoned me in a panic. Her child had swallowed a large amount of a remedy and she was afraid it would do harm. Her Homoeopath could not be contacted and had nobody covering for them.  Another lady called me the day before. She had been trying to contact her Homoeopath for one month but to no avail. This brings it to eleven the qualified and registered Homoeopaths in the past twelve months whose patients have phoned me for a remedy or advice because their own Homoeopath had gone off and left no forwarding address and no arrangements as to whom they could contact in emergencies. Apart from those eleven, my wife had a consultation with a Homoeopath in the second week of January. She is still waiting for her remedy or instructions. It is now the second week of April!!! My wife has phoned her Homoeopath three times, only ever reaching the answerphone and having left messages each time has still not had her calls returned.

At a conference I heard a registered Homoeopath say, ” I haven’t got back to anybody for two months” to which the reply came ” I haven’t returned any calls in two weeks”. What do patients do in the meantime? Allopathy is looking a safer option.  All this may seem trivial to some but patients are actually paying us. When they require urgent advice for an emergency and when you consider the commitment and trust, perhaps volunteering the most personal and sensitive of information to us, we have to respect that trust and be responsible.

We can boast about fabulous cases, write clever articles or give eloquent speeches but if we can’t provide the care people come to us for perhaps we need to look inside and examine why we are doing this work. Homoeopathy is not only about giving our patient that magic similimum it is also about providing a service. Sadly among our qualified and registered Homoeopaths it’s sometimes a very poor service. It hurts me as a Homoeopath to have to say so. While Homoeopathy is usually the best form of treatment for our patients, treating them with indifference is not.

Posted in Ethics.