Angry Doctor

Monday, October 03, 2005

Man arrested for protesting against call for tobacco ban

Bonus Bogus Story

Singapore –

A man was arrested yesterday for staging a protest outside National Cancer Centre.

The man, who claimed to be a doctor but declined to give his name, told Straight Times that he was protesting against National Cancer Centre’s campaign to ban tobacco products in Singapore.

Straight Times managed to speak with the man before he was taken away by police.

‘As doctors, our role in primary prevention should be patient education and persuasion. To try to abdicate our responsibilities as doctors in convincing our patients to stop an unhealthy habit by seeking legislation against it is betraying the patient-doctor relationship and an affront to the idea of patient autonomy,’ said the angry doctor.

‘Besides, it’s an insult to our policy-makers to think that they will not ban tobacco imports when the cost for treating tobacco-related diseases and running anti-smoking campaigns has exceeded the revenues from tobacco tariffs.’

‘Smoking also causes heart disease and strokes, but the cardiologists and neurologists have not sought to ban tobacco use. On the other hand, an unhealthy diet and sexual promiscuity are the respective causes of colorectal cancer and cervical cancer, but we do not see NCC trying to get the government to ban these. If we reduce the deaths from heart disease and strokes, Singaporeans will live longer, and of course we all know that the older you get, the higher your chances for getting cancers!’

‘We all have to die someday. The choice is usually between a quick and sudden death from a heart attack or a stroke, or a slow, painful death from cancer. I believe the choice should lie with the individual and not the state.’

‘I am aware that cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore, but as doctors, we should concern ourselves not with trying to ‘cure’ the statistics of the principal causes of death and life expectancy, but with educating patients on the impact their lifestyle choices have on their own health, and leaving the ultimate responsibility to them.’

The man is now under police custody. It is understood that he will be transferred to the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric assessment. It is not known if the man is himself a smoker.



  • Hmmm... since you are on the topic of cancer... I once worked in the medical records office with a radiology dept in a certain GH. A clerk related a true incident to me: A patient was informed by the senior consultant that he had a stomach tumour and would have to undergo surgery. Being scared, the patient was in a dither and reluctant to have the op. Exasperated, the doctor shouted to the patient: "Your tumour is still small you know!!! You want to wait till when?!?!? Wait until it grows this big ah (doctor stretched out his arms to indicate tumour size)?!?! You will die you know?!?!?" Needless to say, the stunned patient agreed to the op.

    Btw, in all 6 years of my working life, I've known 5 colleagues stricken with cancer (3 of which have passed on, 1 in remission, 1 with recurring cancer), and 2 who've dropped dead suddenly while jogging. Not a good thing for my hear, to be close to colleagues yah...

    By Blogger ckyh, At October 03, 2005 5:55 pm  

  • I am sure the story you related is not an isolated case. Doctors often find it frustrating that patients do not take our advice on course of treatment.

    I think the feeling is:'why do you think I will advise you to be treated in any way other than that which I think is the best for your condition?'

    Having said that, I just saw a patient today who has 'hard-sell'-ed into a procedure she probably didn't need.

    I still don't have the answer to 'how to be sure your doctor is honest'...

    By Blogger angry doc, At October 03, 2005 6:12 pm  

  • Opps, typo error in last sentence. Should be "heart" instead of "hear". Heheh...

    By Blogger ckyh, At October 03, 2005 6:23 pm  

  • Many reasons (good and lame) why patients refuse to listen or trust doctors, and why some doctors might not be truthful. But that's another story.

    Personally, I don't distrust doctors. But I recognise that they are humans after all. And no human knows everything in this world or don't make mistakes.

    I especially realised the importance of being a "good" patient (in my definition, that's doing research to be an informed patient, to have fruitful discussions with the doctor) after several brushes with doctors who gave vague answers.

    Would such a patient be a nightmare for doctors?

    By Blogger ckyh, At October 03, 2005 6:54 pm  

  • Every patient and every doctor is different. I guess it's a matter of finding your match.

    By Blogger angry doc, At October 03, 2005 7:06 pm  

  • i suppose that the key to it all is for both the patient and the docotr to practise mutual respect... the patient should not challenge everything the doctor says just for the sake of challenging authority, and the doctr in turn should take the time to explain and discuss options as thoroughly as possible with the patient

    that being said, it's always easier said than done in the real world

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 03, 2005 7:31 pm  

  • what stethoscope would you recommend for medical students?

    littmann classic or cardiology? got difference?
    why nobody buy welch allyn?

    thanks! :D

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 03, 2005 8:18 pm  

  • Dear the poor traveller,

    If you do your reading to obtain some background knowledge and have the patience to listen and learn, I am sure most doctors who are not hard pressed for time would enjoy talking to you. Of course there are always exceptions.

    I have a dislike for patients who come in with wrong ideas and insist they are right and argue with no scientific basis at all. It is one thing to have a fruitful discussion with the doctor, it is another to try to be the professor educating the doctor.

    I do learn from patients, but I think communication is a two way process :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 03, 2005 8:40 pm  

  • anon medical student, my first advice is not to take any advice from strangers over the internet who cannot and will not be held accountable for the advice they give.

    My second advice is that I don't think it matters, but get something you can afford to replace because chances are you will lose your stethoscopeat least once.

    By Blogger angry doc, At October 03, 2005 11:02 pm  

  • Dr Oz bloke,

    Luckily, I'm the first type of patient. Unfortunately, doctors are mostly hard-pressed for time.

    I won't be the self-righteous "professor" causing grief to doctors, for I returned all scientific knowledge to my teachers long time ago. Heheh. Plus I enjoy listening to doctors speak -- medicine, blood, gore... really intrigue me. :P

    By Blogger ckyh, At October 04, 2005 3:07 pm  

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