Lessons from my initial practice years: Dr. AP Setia

M3 India Newsdesk Jul 05, 2018

Dr. AP Setia, a General Surgeon with over 35 years of experience in Medicine and Past President of IMA, Haryana takes us down memory lane, discussing a story from his initial years in practice, and the important life lesson he drew from the experience.



Dr. Setia: "Good morning, Sir!",

I got up & greeted him.

Mr. A.C.: "How are you Dr. Atam? "

Dr. Setia: "I am fine Sir. Please take a seat. "

This scene is from my consultation chamber, around August 1984.

Mr. A.C. had taught me in my pre-medical class, in 1973 to 74. Now, he had come to seek consultation for his chronic ailment. I diagnosed him to be suffering from Haemorrhoids (Piles). I explained to him the pros & cons of various modalities of treatment available. I was able to answer most of his queries to his satisfaction; though, I was considered a 'freshly minted surgeon' at that time.

He left the chamber with a sigh of relief and told me that he would come back for a procedure in a day or two. A few days later, he returned, ­­­­­­­­­­­but, was in critical condition. His wife told me that he had undergone some procedure performed by a quack. I had to refer him to a higher medical centre immediately because he was having gross infection and a possibility of septicaemia was anticipated.

Three days later, I rang up at his home but did not receive any reply. Those were the days of landline telephones, that too, with infrequent availability. Next day, I decided to visit his home. As I entered the street, my heart started racing. My worst fear that something bad might have happened to him had come true. Many people had gathered in the house. I was told that despite the best efforts of doctors at PGIMER, he could not be saved.

I came back with a heavy heart and tried to analyse, the tragedy from a scientific and social perspective. Mr. A.C. was an excellent teacher and even after his demise had taught me a few lessons:

  • The current education system does not provide any awareness about personal health safeguards and the type of health care delivery systems.
  • The high decibel advertising campaigns by quacks can lure even the most educated ones. Late Mr. A.C was a PhD in Chemistry, high qualification four decades ago in a district level city.
  • Fear of surgical procedures is so ingrained in the mind of the public that they will try all kinds of unscientific methods to avoid surgery.

These conclusions encouraged me to establish a few months later (November 1984) a ‘Piles Clinic’ with the objective of innovating and providing nonsurgical, day care procedures to minimize and eliminate the role of quacks claiming to ‘cure’ this ailment. This of course was in addition to standard procedures performed for treating Piles.

Though my initiative raised some eyebrows amongst co-workers and garnered a few unwarranted comments, for the last three decades, I have persisted with my efforts to save many lives from the 'clutches of quacks’.

The lessons I learned along the way have helped me grow and the Piles Clinic is now known as a reliable centre for ethical approach and treatment of Haemorrhoids in a vicinity of nearly 200 km radius!


Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.

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