Wellness: Trust Your Medical Specialist?

You could say that Dr Stephen Jacob is almost camera shy as Echo photographer Rosli Mansor came to take his photograph. After much protest, he relented and proceeded to give me and our readers some very useful tips on protecting our patients’ rights and questions to ask your surgeon if ever faced with impending surgery.

Former Senior Consultant General Surgeon and the Head of Department of Surgery at Hospital Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh, Dr Stephen Jacob, after serving 34 years, 24 years as a specialist with the Malaysian government, has for the first time gone into private practice, joining KMC (formerly known as Kinta Medical Centre) as a resident consultant general surgeon recently.

Already in the throes of enjoying his retirement bliss, Dr Stephen was persuaded to help out at KMC by Dr Jeyakumar, Senior Consultant, Chest and General Physician at KMC, when the then resident surgeon left.

Since this is his first assignment in private practice and even then an involuntary one, I asked why he stayed in government service for so long.

His reason was that in all his years in the various postings he’s had, his main motivation for staying with government service was to inculcate good values in the young doctors and specialists under his wing.

 “A specialist or subspecialist qualification may look very good on paper but it does not mean that the person will be a competent doctor. The most important value that any doctor should uphold is to not betray the patient’s trust,” he said.

“As surgeons, we need to realise that the patient is entrusting his/her life to you when they consent to the surgery and that is a sacred trust. Unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, and before consent is given by the patient, has the surgeon explained about possible complications that may arise, and the complication rate of the particular surgery being contemplated? These are very important considerations if a surgeon is to be a competent one,” Dr Stephen emphasised.

As for advice to patients contemplating surgery, Dr Stephen has this advice for them.

Firstly, know that you have a patient’s rights and in that, you are entitled to ask questions.

Ask for the diagnosis and the need for surgery.

And of course for the possible complications that may occur and how common they are. Also, ask how many of these particular procedures has the surgeon performed and his own complication rate.

If I don’t undergo this surgery what would happen to me.

If the surgeon does not answer your questions to your satisfaction, then try to look for a second opinion if you have a choice.

KMC Medical Centre
(Owned and managed by Yetkai Hospital Sdn Bhd)
20a Jalan Chung Thye Phin, 30250 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 242 5333
Fax: 05 255 55702
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