Monday, 12 October 2009

The situation

It was getting late in the afternoon, slumber was creeping in the shadows of hardworking doctors, nurses and interns in the clinic. The day had been a long one for the department of oral and maxillofacial surgery in the government college of dentistry. Just ten minutes were left before the counter could comfortably close and the health workers could comfortably return to the remaining half of their routine lives.

At that point, an elderly female walked into the clinic. Avoiding eye contact was the first reflex of the interns as no one wanted to undertake a last minute case. Dr. Rohan who tried his best to hide from the duty was assigned the case by the professor who nonchalantly walked out of the clinic in holiday mood. In no mood to attend the patient, the intern dragged his feet to the patient's chair and inquired about the ailment. The patient gave the generic history he had given earlier to the other dentists he had seen.

The internee listened carefully not the patient's story, but the sound of his friends and colleagues packing up to leave the clinic. They were all excited as it was the much awaited weekend of diwali and everyone had plans of his own. Listening to the sound, Rohan asked the patient to remain calm as he administered local anaesthesia. His practice-perfect hands took out the teeth one by one as instructed in the case sheet. The patient was very co-operative.

The nurse took away the instrument plate from the chair and soon after, the patient and the doctor were the only ones left in the clinic. It was closing time, so the patient, after being instructed about what to do and what not to do, was about to leave. "Here is your case-sheet, Gopalanna", the dentist extended a leaflet to the patient reading his name from the sheet. The patient frowned and detested something. It was beyond the comprehension of the preoccupied intern. He questioningly, raised his eyebrows. "I am Ramanna" was the patient's innocent reply.

Rohan again looked at the case sheet, and saw his table. Another sheet of paper was lying there as innocently as possible for a case sheet. Rohan checked and cross checked. He had extracted the wrong teeth. The sweat drops on his forehead were enough to explain the matters to Gopalanna.

Gopalanna was furious. He was shouting his lungs out at a mummified Rohan who didn't know whether to die trying to say something or just jump off from the window. He was just an intern. His seniors would murder him for this. They would kill him! An image of professor Gowda suspending him from the department and blackening his, until now, clean sheet loomed into his mind. His knee jerk reflex was to beg the patient not to raise his voice. He promised to get the thing fixed. He also offered monetary compensations and finally Gopalanna melted. He settled with a prosthetic rehabilitation completely sponsored by Rohan and a compensation of Rs. 5, 000 for just keeping mum.

As the havoc was avoided, Rohan, with a heavy heart moved out of the hospital. The patient walked away with a straight face and a distant philosophical look in his eyes. The next morning, he was standing outside the conservative and endodontics clinics of the same hospital with two case-sheets in his hand- one labeled Ramanna and the other Gopalanna.

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