Tackling professional short-circuits
One of recurring headaches in many advanced societies is how to get the members of the professional classes to do what is expected of them without the need for additional complications.
By professional classes we mean members of the professions, from lawyers to doctors, from notaries to architects, etc.
Such professional classes are usually regulated by a code of ethics and in many cases they are supervised by disciplinary boards elected usually from among the members.
In an advanced society there is usually a means of addressing grievances which includes the Law Courts and other secondary means of regulation.
But it may happen that these disciplinary boards do not act as they are supposed to do, or are perceived as not acting as they are meant to do. This is where public trust gets undermined. The structures may be there but they do not seem to work.
In many cases, then, the issue or complaint may be a secondary one, one that does not merit opening up a court case or going the whole hog of invoking a disciplinary hearing, but which cause widespread harm to the client himself.
Delays in a court case, for instance, would not require sanctioning by means of another court case, nor the opening of a disciplinary case, but heavily impinge on the outcome in the interest of justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.
In most of these professional classes there is always the option of moving to a new adviser as this is a free world after all, but in many cases this would entail additional time and expenses, which may not be available to all.
Having the free exercise of the professional classes is one thing, but this is an admirable institution as long as the clients, that is us, the general public, get the impression that all is well in the state of Denmark.
But where the general impression is one of anger, disgust, or worse, there must be something rotten in that state of Denmark. Go to the Law Courts on any day and you meet hundreds of people going around with sullen faces and this would not be as regards the subject matter of the case itself but also grumbles about the delays, the postponements, the various ins and outs of the courts’ workings. And we are talking here about one profession only, and one that is on the whole adequately self-disciplined.
A parallel profession is the medical one, that is self-governed by the Medical Council. Once again, it would seem, or rather the general impression seems to be that if a death occurs, the Council springs into action, or if a grievous case comes up. But the people out there have different tales to tell – of doctors who repeatedly come up with a wrong diagnosis, of doctors who prescribe pills that other doctors then dissuade, of doctors who over-prescribe medicines, especially antibiotics, of doctors who venture to experiment on patients without telling them.
As said earlier, this is a free country and patients are free to move from one doctors to another but the problem is that many people do not even realize when they have been misdiagnosed, or given the wrong medicines or made to fork out huge sums they did not need to.
As said at the beginning, there are other professional classes than the two mentioned, and they all need a strict, fair supervisory regime, which is not always the case.
But with regards to the medical field, to get back to it, as much as the correct medical treatment can be beneficial, so too the wrong application can be detrimental to one’s health. And health, once lost, can be very difficult to recuperate.
What people say, in bars, in shops, elsewhere, may be exaggerated but there is a kernel of truth. There are too many who take on a profession as a means to get rich and the poor patient who has no one to guide him often ends up paying good money for a remedy that is no remedy at all, or when a cheaper alternative was available. In the case of health, there is the National Health Service, that is not as bad as many practitioners make it out to be, but in the case of the other professions, there is no State to protect from misguided advice.