Pride, Honesty and Money

Thinking about the days seeing report sick in the military, one notes that there was a certain refreshing honesty to it. Compare the following scenarios of a 20 year-old NSF recruit reporting sick on Sunday evening:

“Hi Doctor, I have sore throat. My sore throat very bad one, every time sure need antibiotics. Also, can I have MC for today and tomorrow.”

    Private GP

GP: “Hmmm… but no need antibiotics. [Cue spiel about how antibiotics not warranted in viral URTI and even if bacterial only shortens by 1/2 day and how if you take antibiotics you are 2-9x more likely to get drug resistant infections blah blah risk of allergic reactions/side effects for minimal gain for 10min]. Also… why do you need MC? Light duties enough right?”

Recruit: “Uhhh… Erm… I need antibiotics. Otherwise won’t get better. Need MC for both today and tomorrow, otherwise have to book in.”

GP: [looks at queue outside] “Okay then give you 2 days MC and antibiotics for 1 week. Complete your antibiotics…” [feels professional pride and soul rotting away, takes comfort in charging $30 for unnecessary course of antibiotics]

    Army MO

Army MO: “Why need? No need antibiotics [thinking, as per Clinical Practice Guidelines]. No MC. You get light duties for today. Go out.”

Ahhh… the good old days…


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by M on April 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Hi J,
    just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your (very intellectual) rants about life and all kinda crap ^^ I’m going for a med school interview tomorrow, and imma hoping I can get in without having to smoke though/ con them haha :D



  2. Posted by TreZ on April 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Hahaha, my med interview is tomorrow (what a coincidence ! )and I happened to read this post today !
    This blog made my day ^^


  3. Posted by Whatisthefunnypicturenexttoemailaddressfieldincommentssecetionfor? on September 24, 2011 at 4:41 am

    @J (not sure if you are too busy to read this?):

    Just wondering, is it really true that antibiotics only shorten bacterial throat infection cure times by half a day? In my own experience it has been otherwise, usually with antibiotics my infections get better much more quickly…

    Like the recruit in your story I can usually tell how bad my infection needs to be before I need antibiotics… Other times if I just cough out as much phlegm as I can every morning it will go away in 2 weeks.


    • Hi sorry I’ve been away from this blog for months and months.

      This is according to Singapore’s Clinical Practice Guidelines which review the current literature. So I say, yes.

      But the problem is that this kind of throat infections tend to go away by themselves so the placebo effect is very strong. E.g. Danzen, my girlfriend swears it helps sore throat but it’s actually stopped being imported in Singapore because the company that produces it cannot prove clinical efficacy. Heh.


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