Pakistan’s healthcare is far from perfect. A no-small amount of people falls prey of quacks or malpractice due to a number of reasons.
Our authorities do recognize the existence of this problem, but enforcement of these laws is almost absent. There’s no robust systems to punish offenders or diminish their capacity to operate and harm more and more people.
Hospitals are improperly distributed and usually don’t follow required standards, leaving only private healthcare facilities (PHF) as an option for Pakistani citizens who can afford them. PHF are better equipped but since they are also much more expensive, a large part of the population simply can’t afford it.
Most people feel as they are not the ones to question someone who offers medical advice and treatment. This leads to them following instructions from someone with the proper appearance, and vocabulary but without the right official qualifications or training.
Quacks, with time lose a significant part of their empathy towards their patients, leading to them harming people in ever more vulnerable conditions as they continue operations. They will not act to help you, only to help themselves either directly or indirectly.
What Is Quackery & Malpractice
To make things clearer, we should define 2 important concepts: Quackery and Malpractice.
Quackery: Is the promotion of fraudulent or ignorant medical practices by an individual who claims to have special knowledge and skill in medicine or other fields.
Malpractice: Are illegal, improper or negligent professional activity or treatment performed by a medical practitioner.
So malpractice is performed by professionals while quacks don’t have a proper valid qualification or a degree.
Malpractice can be a subtler phenomenon than quackery. A physician guilty of malpractice may be responsible for miss-diagnosing an easily diagnosable and preventable illness by just not ordering the right tests or doing no testing at all, leading to the patient’s death. However, plenty of cases include performing unnecessary surgery, neglect, lack of knowledge, poorly performed surgeries and leaving things inside patients.
Malpractice claims up to 100.000 lives every year in developed countries, however, for Pakistan, statistics are nowhere to be found.
Quackery is just as, if not more, dangerous than malpractice. Since “treatments” doesn’t have to even bother to seem scientifically sound or be recognized by a central organizing entity. A quack can end up killing you in a vast number of ways. Sadly, no statistics are available, but we hope to help you by giving you a list of ways to spot a quack. Just one general advice: Quacks prey on ignorance and vulnerability. Ask questions and check your doctor’s qualifications if you become suspicious.
Government does not educate public on how to deal with malpractice and litigations are frequently unsuccessful, expensive and long lasting. A lot of people, due to their background don’t feel worthy enough to challenge a doctor’s decision.
Medical Licenses in Pakistan
The Pakistan medical and dental council (PMDC) is a regulatory authority that maintains a registry of all licensed medical and dental practitioners and defines the minimum requirements they must met to obtain their license.
The PMDC doesn’t cover all different types of practitioners and many are simply not as closely monitored. Without a central and easily accessible registry, spotting quacks and denouncing malpractice becomes much more difficult. You can find more about what the PMDC is and their requirements here.
The PMDC may revoke a person’s license if they suspect (with evidence) malpractice. KPK’s Healthcare Act has recently tried to improve the situation in the province.
Visit Only Authentic Doctors
Cases of discrimination against minorities and patients not being allowed to receive medical treatment due to violations of medical standard operations procedures are not uncommon. In a particular circumstance of Sameera Bibi, a woman who was forced to give birth on the road, endangering her life and the life of her child.
Quacks, as we mentioned, claim lives at an equal or higher rate than mal-practitioners. Punjab’s authorities have collected many cases of death by quacks. In a particular one, an elderly woman died after being injected by an illegal practitioner.
Let people know when a quack is operating near you.
Know that real medical doctors have the duty to inform the authorities when quackery is suspected.