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Sheila's daughter is dying...

By Aleksander Boyd

London 08.10.05 | Sheila has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her illness, although not terminal, could kill her if not treated correctly and promptly. Therefore husband Peter sets out to speak with the best doctor in town to have her seen. After many tests and analyses Doctor Jones identifies the source and cause of the cysts and promises Peter to treat and most probably cure Sheila. The reputation of Doctor Jones precedes him, furthermore his way of dealing with patients is such that, when in his company, they momentarily forget their illnesses and deposit an absolute vote of confidence in him. Specialised literature, academic papers and magazines contain abundant praise of Doctor Jones' almost supernatural gift to rid patients of cancer.

Sheila was diagnosed nearly seven years ago, her state, though stable for the first four years, has taken a dramatic deterioration of late. Peter is desperate, seeing his beloved wife suffer. They have both approached Doctor Jones who invariably gives them assurances that it is only a matter of time for her to get completely cured. His charm continues to play an important role, especially with Peter who sees him as an inspiring figure. However Sheila, the one beind drained with the battle against cancer, has lost confidence. She has made firm requests to Peter to seek the advice of other professionals. Other doctors do not seem to have Jones' credentials, which deters Peter from referring Sheila's case to them. He has gathered a wealth of information about some of them and sadly none seem capable of helping Sheila.

Disconsolate, as Peter is witnessing the slow death of Sheila, he promises her to present the case to foreign medical specialists for consultation. The latter's opinions couldn't be more daunting; Sheila suffers from an easily curable form of breast cancer but international agreements amongst associate bodies prevent them to step in to provide treatment. Doctor Jones is the eminence in that field in his country and as such he is perceived; his colleagues lack the peer respect that he enjoys, which coupled with their appalling track record of malpractice bars them from trying to cure her.

Sheila is already despondent. During the first four years of treatment Doctor Jones would spend much time with her, providing a level of care other patients could only dream about. That has changed for a while ago Doctor Jones was informed that an epydemic of similar cases were sprouting everywhere in the region. Following the impulse of helping the less fortunate and the Hippocratic oath Jones started flying all around to see personally that breast cancer patients were administered his much touted curative method. The hospital were Sheila is being treated is just buzzing with young doctors that have come to be educated on the Jones' method. Seemingly a true revolution is taking place. Thousands of requests for Doctor Jones' services are received and logged. As with mythical religious places peregrinations to the hospital have started.

Sheila is in comatose state. During awakenings she realizes how easy it would have been for Doctor Jones to cure her before moving on to other cases. The last time he actually sat down to comfort her -pre chemotherapy- was more than a year ago. Her deterioration is due to the hospital's ever growing waiting list of patients that have travelled the distance to receive the Jones' treatment. Since the break of the pandemic Jones, who is also the hospital's director general, has completely neglected the duties towards his patients and staff, deviating funds and resources to other hospitals in other countries. Witnessing the sheer chaos that has ensued Jones' colleagues have proposed to name a disciplinary investigating panel to establish responsibilities. Alas loyalty, from staff hired directly by Jones, stands between taking decisive action to save patients and conducting open hearings in which the famous doctor will have a lot of explaining to do.

Peter has just returned from a brief trip abroad. He managed to consult Sheila's case with some of the best cancer specialists from around the world. The view that should she be given proper treatment she could be cured in a matter of days was held unanimously. The opinion that the hospital could be more efficiently managed was also common, however for this goal to be achieved fresh graduates must be called to duty.

Sadly upon arrival to the hospital Peter finds out that Sheila had passed away. Their children and relatives are devastated. The frustation and sad realization that Jones failed to save his wife's life is too a heavy weight to bear, especially when considering that Jones' ambitions to become the region's holy man stood in the way to the fulfilling of the duty of care he owed to his patients.

Prohibition to deregulate the Jones' method is still in place. The pandemic is taking the lives of thousands across the region; moreover a recent appraisal of Jones' performance in the last three years done by an independent commission shows an alarming increase in deaths for malpractice. The commission also concluded that there were no guarantees that his colleagues would perform any better under the circumstances. The commission's report successfully pointed out the origins of the issue -attributed to staff inexperience, superbug's proliferation owing to the sudden influx of patients from other regions, lack of funding, deviation of earmarked resources, deficient sterilisation techniques, obsolete equipment, appalling cleaning procedures, irresponsible disposal of waste, etc. However it failed to even suggest measures to tackle and contain the outbreak and, worse still, the inexistence of a plan and concerted effort to stop the spreading of the muted disease means that representatives of different nations, grouped in the commission, could not care less about the fate and lives of millions of patients. The commission's findings were greeted with utmost contempt by hospital staff and Jones referred to it as the work of evil men, insensible to the plights of the ill. Cases of the disease have already been reported in hospitals across the ocean and in far away lands.

Peter's and Sheila's 13 year old daughter was infected by a superbug in one hospital visit. Doctor Jones, however, is abroad, as usual, trying to cure other patients...



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