"Doctor, He is coughing badly for the last 4 months."
A man in his mid 20s was saying about his thin and frail looking father who was sitting slumped on my patient's chair.
"4 months!!! You did not take him to any doctor?" was my angry question.
Son: "Yes, he was under a doctor's treatment for 4 months".
Me: "Were any blood tests done or any sputum or X ray examination done?'
Son: 'One blood test was done long back, which was normal.'
Me: 'Who was the doctor who treated him?' [I was curious].
Son: 'Father does not like strong modern medicines, so he was under the care of a
Me: 'Then why have you brought him here?'
Son: 'He is becoming weak day by day, lost weight and is not eating anything'.
I was almost sure of the diagnosis before I examined him. There were nothing obvious in his clinical exam except some altered breath sounds and pallor. So I asked him to take an X ray film of the Chest without wasting anymore time.
In an hour's time the Son came in to my room with the X ray. Yes as I suspected the X ray showed tell tale signs of Tuberculosis of the Lungs.
"It is TB". I offered him reference to the Government Health Center [for confirming the diagnosis by sputum examination and for free medicines]. He, as I guessed took the offer as he was not that well off.
Few days ago I had another man of about 65 years with almost similar history. Cough for 3 to 4 months and homeopathy treatment. He also turned to be suffering from sputum positive Tuberculosis.
Why these doctors are not thinking about TB? Are they taught the signs and symptoms of Lung TB? Can they treat Tuberculosis?
Only modern anti tuberculous antibiotics can cure a patient of TB, not homeopathic or ayurvedic medicines.
I know many homeopathic and Ayurvedic doctors who refer patients to Modern Medicine doctors as soon as they realise they cannot help the patient. But some never do, may be fearing they will be considered incompetent or due to sheer lack of knowledge.
I know all doctors can make mistakes. I have made many mistakes too. But if you find a patient is not getting better, a doctor should re-think the diagnosis, do further tests or refer to some one else better equipped to deal with the illness. I always do that.
Both the above patients must have spread the tuberculosis bacteria around their house and surroundings in the 3 to 4 months they were coughing out sputum.
If the situation is like this how can we ever eradicate or control TB?