Why all doctors run away from Indian patientsBjorn | Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Here’s Part 2 of my buddy Vishnu’s series on Indians and doctors…. this one had me snorting involuntarily in Starbucks as I proofed it:
I previously wrote why every Indian parent wants their child to be a certified, medically-licensed physician. I mentioned that money, respect, free prescription drug samples, winning the bragging wars with other parents and free at-home medical care upon old age are just some of the reasons Indian parents want their kids to be doctors.
All Indian, and broadly all Asian parents, want their children to be doctors. Fair enough. Now here’s the question I want you to think about: Why do all doctors run away from Indian parents like their hair’s on fire? Forget Indian parents, all doctors want to run away from Indians and Asians patients in general.
Why does every doctor wish they could ban Indian & Asian patients from seeing them?
1) The kids of Indian & Asian patients are probably doctors!! As I mentioned in my last post, every Indian parents’ dream is to have children in the medical profession. This makes it difficult when Indian parents go visit doctors because they’ve probably already run the medical problem, diagnosis, treatment and medication past their children. Indians like to visit doctors like they’re giving them a professional pop quiz!
2) They don’t trust anyone, let alone doctors! Indians treat doctors as advisors – opinions to be considered, not diagnoses to be heeded. For this reason, they get a lot of second opinions and continually undermine the advice they get from their primary care doctor.
3) They can’t stand being in any system that doesn’t allow them to bargain. Indians love to bargain, as Ramit Sethi regularly reminds us. Ramit regularly provides scripts and strategies for negotiating with your landlord, your bank and other money saving tips. Unfortunately, the medical field is probably one of the places you can’t bargain very much. Insurance companies don’t mind if you take your business elsewhere and could care less if you’re buying services in bulk. Indians hate buying things they can’t bargain over so naturally they’re not fond of visiting doctors or paying them!
4) They think that herbal, ayurvedic and acupuncture treatments are far superior to modern medicine. All Indian people have their own herbalists, ayurvedic doctors and extensive network of acupuncture doctors. Your typical medical doctor is competing for attention with these other natural-healers. In a battle of authority about which remedies and treatments are better, licensed-doctors regularly lose out.
5) They hold onto personal anecdotes and stories from friends like solid medical proof. Indians live in very close-knit communities no matter where they are in the world. What do Indian people do when they gather together for potlucks, birthday parties and religious festivities? They exchange their medical war stories. They discuss how a particular doctor diagnosed the wrong disease, how a second opinion saved the day or how they refused to follow the advice of a doctor and still healed. They exchange war stories about cancer and heart risk. They talk amongst themselves about what treatments worked and which medicines are effective but the worst part is that they hold onto these stories as solid medical proof. They use these stories against their own doctors to undermine the physician’s knowledge and credibility.
6) Although they don’t trust doctors, their paranoia causes them to demand all kinds of unnecessary medical exams. It’s precisely because Indians don’t trust doctors, they play the role of doctors themselves. Armed with insights from natural healers, their children who are physicians and their friends’ war stories, Indians ask for additional exams and lab work to help identify ‘phantom’ medical issues they might have or to double check the diagnosis of another doctor! After a quick check to see if insurance companies are covering the exams, Indians will demand that additional exams and tests are done.
Doctors know the trouble and headache Indian patients cause them. If there’s any way for them to get out of seeing an Indian patient, they’ll find it.
Indians know this too. That’s why we shorten 36-syllable names to shorter more Anglo-sounding ones like P.J. or Bob!! on the phone so receptionists will have no idea that they’re talking to a potential Indian patient.
It’s a no-win situation for both parties unless you’re a doctor that has figured out how to deal with this ‘special’ clientele:) Of course, if you end up serving the Indian community successfully, you’re possibly in luck. You would have hit the referral-jackpot as the entire community starts referring their friends and family to you!
*No doctors have banned Vishnu from seeing them yet. He blogs about spirituality and overcoming challenges at www.vishnusvirtues.com.