Tack­ling pro­fes­sional short-cir­cuits

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

Edi­tor’s pick

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.

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