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Thai Girl Tattle: The Missing Foreskin

Andrew Hicks tells of a most unfortunate medical error.

Do please visit Andrew's Web sites

Professional bodies can sometimes be notoriously protective of their members but a recent item on the front page of The Bangkok Post (Council defends circumcision error) reminds me that I am in the Land of Smiles.

“The Medical Council of Thailand has come to the defense of a male nurse at a clinic who mistakenly circumcised a boy who wanted to have an abscess in his mouth removed,” says the article.

The mother complained to the Council whose acting president commended the doctor that he correctly diagnosed the abscess and did nothing wrong. The doctor wrote ‘excision’ on the order assigning the nurse to perform the operation but the nurse confused it for ‘circumcision’ and “proceeded to cut off the boy’s foreskin”.

The unfortunate boy of twelve either thought this was a special new treatment for oral abscesses or, in this culture of deference, felt that a male nurse lopping bits off his willy was not something he should openly comment about.

According to The Post the matter had yet to go before the panel on medical ethics but the acting president promptly sprang to the doctor’s defense saying that the mistake was unintentional and he was not to blame. Mai pen rai he seemed to say. “Looking on the bright side” the accidental circumcision would help the boy keep clean and avoid the risk of cancer.

What a lucky young lad he was! Grown ups know best and thank goodness, there are lots of these in our fresh faced Democrat led government.

The government is currently pursuing a wide range of novel populist policies to help the poor and to woo the hearts of the electorate. For example, a generous scheme costing the government 1.4 billion baht in lost tax revenues will in future make principle repayments on mortgages up to 300,000 baht as well as interest fully tax deductible. This should help the poor to buy properties of up to about 2.5 million baht and will stimulate a depressed property sector.

Meanwhile convicted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra who built his popularity on Thai Rak Thai’s so-called ‘populist’ policies is seeing red, complaining from exile abroad that the new Democrat government is stealing his ideas. They are cynically handing out money to buy the voters hearts and to undermine his still considerable following.

Now is that funny or what!

So I ask myself how can the Democrats succeed in trumping Thaksin’s populism now that the economy is down and there’s so little spare money to throw around?

One of Thaksin’s flagship schemes was the universal healthcare scheme which enabled the populace to receive medical consultations for thirty baht. I've now heard somewhere that the new government is planning to add to this a new and attractive ‘Buy one get one free’ medical plan. Thus selected surgical patients when awaking from the anesthetic will be greeted by hospitality staff with degrees in both health care and public relations.

They will be told that following a lucky draw they are the happy recipient of a free vasectomy or that their appendix has been removed, both of which procedures confer significant benefits. Colonoscopy and in the case of women prophylactic removal of breasts is a further possibility.

This policy will not be expensive to operate, will clearly help poor people and will also cover the medical profession against any unfair allegation that it was sufficient for example to amputate the left leg only and not to remove both of them. As hospitals are not run for the benefit of the medical profession, the poor should now gratefully applaud these new and generous benefits.

Where was it I heard about this? I can’t quite remember.

Anyway I’m going to have to stop writing now as my imagination’s in overdrive and I think I’m getting a little feverish. Cat always rushes off to the doctor on the slightest pretext but I’ve always preferred self-medication.

I’m even more convinced of that now.


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