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Need for psychiatric evaluation of medical officers

There must be an ethical code of conduct for medical officers tasked with supervising the training of housemen

A ward at the Penang General Hospital

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by K Veeriah

The ongoing furore over the predicament of medical housemen may well justify a psychiatric evaluation of doctors supervising housemen.

Whether medical officers are themselves exhibiting a stress-related disorder ought to be examined.

The proposition that medical interns need to undergo a “rite of passage” at the arbitrary dictate of senior medical officers is neither acceptable nor civilised.

A culture of bullying, abuse and humiliation – premised upon the unwritten authority invested in senior medical officers – cannot justify a purported training regime to mould housemen to meet the challenges of the medical profession.

On the contrary, housemen need to be nurtured with a well-defined holistic internship programme, considering they are fresh graduates with limited exposure to the real-life challenges in a hospital environment.

Obviously, the Ministry of Health has failed to put in place a standard operating procedure for the housemen’s internship programme, thus giving an unfettered reign of dominance to supervising medical officers in their treatment of housemen.

While the Ministry of Health’s decision to begin an inquiry into the matter is appropriate, it still has an obligation to formulate an ethical code of conduct for supervising medical officers in the training regimen for medical housemen.

K Veeriah is a veteran trade unionist based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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