How to Spot a Fake Doctor
Last Sunday on a sudden whim I went to the gym – well maybe not that sudden a whim- for on Saturday my favorite pair of pants had failed to button itself onto me and so to assuage my guilty conscience about my expanding waistline and also due to the multiple phone calls from the gym trainers threatening to close down my membership if I did not put in an appearance at least occasionally. Once there I got down to it with gusto and at the end of a ten minute walkathon on the treadmill was totally exhausted and decided to take a water break.
As I stood there by the water fountain waiting my turn for the drink that revives, an old acquaintance, one of those regular iron pumpers who live for the gym, wandered over to say “hi” to me. After making the usual jokes on my nonexistent washboard abs and irregular gym visits he introduced to me someone standing beside him as “this guy is a doctor too”. I turned and said a polite “hi” to the stranger and that would have been an end to that if only the water fountain had been free but unfortunately the crowd around the water hadn’t diminished yet and I found myself in the awkward position of having to make small talk with the new acquaintance.
So perfunctorily I asked the other doctor where he had studied. He hesitated a bit and dropping his voice in a shifty way said something like “in shankhurrah naturally”. I thought I had misheard and asked him to repeat again and he murmured the same in an even quieter voice than before. I was genuinely puzzled for the name he gave me was the name of an eye hospital and not of any medical college. As far as I know, and I do know a few things, a medical college is where you study and a hospital is where you work, you cannot study at an hospital anymore than you can work at a college (or maybe you can- if you already have a degree from somewhere else).
Something was definitely not right here or maybe it was my just my nasty suspicious nature, so I decided to go for broke and asked him right out “So, are you an ophthalmic surgeon?” He took his time weighing his answer and so to help him along with the process I volunteered with a “I probably know a couple of doctors there- colleagues of yours I presume?” that made it clear to him he had had it and could no longer dissemble and it was better to tell me the truth, so he mumbled “I am an optometrist”. Ha-ha, I thought that explains it, so why couldn’t he have come straight out and confessed this in the beginning and saved himself all the trouble. Anyway, not being an insensitive type who humiliates others, I decided to go along with his story and so said a loud “thank you, nice meeting you doctor” in front of the others and then I moved away from there to go and lift my burdens (for my sins) from the weight rack.
And now for those wondering what was it all about -an optometrist is a technician who examines the eye for defects in eye power- just like a lab technician or a x-ray technician or an ecg technician – what we call a para-medical staff and definitely not a real doctor qualified to do eye surgeries. But in a worrisome new trend a few greedy corporate hospitals have started short term Para Medical courses where they train people to assist doctors and to make more money by cheating the poor trainees they inform them that at the end of the course they may call themselves as doctors, which is strictly not true.
But in our country where anything goes we have quacks everywhere and anyone who has assisted a doctor for a couple of years or for that matter anyone who has read half a dozen health related articles on google- considers themselves a medical expert. So doctors are dime a dozen and it is up to each patient to identify if the person they are seeing is a real doctor or not. The best way to make sure- is to ask to see their original degree certificates but as most doctors mortgage this certificates with their banks to get loans for establishing their clinics we need a better way to judge if its a real doctor or just a pretend doctor, so i have taken the trouble to offer you a few hints on how to identify fakes
Hints to spot a fake doctor
1) I know OT but OR?
If he/she says OR instead of OT – he/she is a fake. In India or for that matter anywhere else in the world except in the US of A where they do things perversely just to be different (don’t they even drive on the other side of the road?) – Any surgical operation is conducted inside an Operation theatre and not in an Operation room. We have places called M.OT- minor Operation Theater, G.OT – general operations theater or S.OT- specialty Operations Theater or doctors just generally refer to it as “the theatre”. So if your doctor says “take the patient to the OR” run from there without looking back for he has seen too many episodes of the American Medical Sitcoms like Scrubs or House MD- where they use the fictional term “OR” when they meant to say “OT”. So anyone who says OR and not OT is a TV doctor who got his degree watching the TV serial Grey’s Anatomy which brings me immediately to my next red-flag
2) Is it Gray or just Grey?
If ask your doctor to spell the word gray’s anatomy and he uses the “E” instead of the syllable “A” for Gray then again run from him for he is just a TV doctor. The name in question “gray” originally refers to a very famous (and very dead) anatomist called Dr.Gray who wrote a big fat book of anatomy called Grays Anatomy- a book which will always stay on the library’s dust laden shelf- for who (except body builders) will have the strength to lug around a 5000 page giant sized book when slimmer versions of recent authors are available. They call gray’s anatomy the bible of anatomy for a reason- like the bible it is only read by preachers or pastors- and never by the laity. So that’s about Gray with an “A’s” anatomy. If your doctor refers to the other Grey’s anatomy with an “e” rest assured the only anatomy he studied is the body of a female sitcom actresses called grey from the TV serial.
3) The Wiki-warrior aka the Google-worshipper
This is someone who thinks that he knows medicine better than doctors because he owns a desktop, a laptop, a tablet and a phone with Internet connection. These people will astound you with facts and figures pulled straight out of recent research papers and offer gratuitous advice to all ailments, even unasked and they won’t stop dosing others with their medical opinions until they finally kill someone with their advice. Be aware that they are just well intentioned idiots who don’t set out to deliberately cheat you but do it only out of ignorance trusting to their half-baked understanding of medicine gained from reading questionable online medical websites.
Remember there is a reason that a medical education takes so many years to complete- doctors literally can kill you with their wrong (or even well intentioned) advice- so are you going to trust someone who read a few medical articles on Wikipedia yesterday and offers free advice on social media today? Real doctors rarely speak about such hot medical news because they don’t go by the most recent internet reports – they wait for the treatment or medicine to become standardized and widely accepted (however long it takes) and then only will they recommend it – making sure that even if the treatment doesn’t work as hyped at least their patients don’t get to die. So if someone starts with a “you know what, i read just yesterday in google/pubmed ….” just close your eyes and delete that chat thread.
4) The white coat carriers –
Doctors wear a variety of dresses but one thing that typifies them is the ubiquitous white coat. But not every doctor wears one all the time. In fact, doctors try not to wear these when not seeing patients. For one thing, wearing white coats in our hot Indian climate, especially over your everyday regular wear, is hot work and you are bathed in sweat all the time. For another the white coat is a dust and dirt magnet and it is so difficult to keep it spotless white all the time- as expected of a dutiful doctor. So when the doctor is not actually seeing a patient the coat is draped over the back of his chair or safely folded inside his locker – to keep it dust free. No doctor or at least no real doctor ever carries the white coat on his shoulders everywhere he goes to show that he is a doctor- only fakes do that even at bus stops and roadsides. Real doctors, by the time they graduate hate wearing those coats so much that only the threat of the chief doctors rounds makes them hurriedly don that coat. So if you see someone walking and showing off a white coat all the time- he is a fake.
5) Scrubs Vs Dress.
American medical sitcoms often show doctors, all doctors, walking around in what they call scrubs. In India we call it theatre dress, never ever scrubs. And only surgeons get to wear it- not regular doctors who just wear their white coats when seeing patients. And even surgeons never walk around in it all day- for it is supposed to be worn only inside a sterile environment- an operation theatre and not where dust and germs can collect on it. Even the busiest of surgeons don’t actually live in that dress like they show on TV serials- we wear it only on entering the theatre and change out of it when leaving the theatre at the end of the surgery. And male and female doctors (in India) change in separate rooms unlike what they show on TV, which is a pity because the surest way to kill any in-house romance is to see a colleague in their (often weird) undies. So watch out for people who say “Scrubs”.
So these are just a few of my ideas on how to identify a fake doctor who got his degree from watching TV serials. Please feel free to add your own methods of identification in the comments section below.