Just before concluding Saagar’s inquest the coroner asked me, “Do you think your son was treated differently because you are a doctor?” At the time I could only think of the Daksha Emson Inquiry which concluded that “doctors may end up being treated less effectively than if they were ‘ordinary’ patients.”
In my experience as an anaesthetist when a colleague or their family members come into hospital to have a baby or an operation, however minor, they are approached as ‘high risk’ patients. They somehow seem to bring trouble with them. Red flags go up automatically. As far as possible they have a consultant anaesthetist and surgeon looking after them as a matter of professional courtesy. It doesn’t incur any extra cost. Courtesy often doesn’t.
Saagar was scheduled for a minor surgery at my hospital in February 2011. One of the most senior and highly respected surgeons in the country put him first on his list and a brilliant consultant colleague anaesthetised him. I did not ask for or expect any of this but was very grateful for it.
So, I am not sure how to answer that question. Was Saagar treated differently because I am a doctor?
Maybe the Honorary Consultant psychiatrist who made the diagnosis of Bipolar disorder assumed that I would know all about it. Maybe that is why he did not speak with me or Saagar’s father even once. Maybe the GP assumed the same. I knew as much about mental illness as an average psychiatrist would know about anaesthesia. Those assumptions are baseless.
Maybe Saagar would have received better care in a smaller town. Years ago, when I had decided to move from Belfast to London, one of my colleagues had commented, “You are going from being ‘a rich somebody’ to ‘a poor nobody’”. He was right.
Well. I wish he could have received the treatment that every single person deserves. If that would be the case I would not be the author of this article in the Huffington Post : Suicide – The Silent Epidemic.