Doctor sending SOS to traffic enforcers

12:01 AM November 22, 2016

For humans, life is a most precious asset. As advocates of life, physicians provide professional assistance to promote and protect life.

The unsolved traffic problem has become a big obstacle for physicians pursuing a mission to save lives—especially for cardiologists, obstetricians and surgeons who, very often, are confronted with life-threatening health cases that require immediate resolution to prevent extensive injury or even death.


The present coding scheme and the abolition of the window hours have deprived physicians of the usual police assistance they were privileged with while in transit to patients in distress, thus subjecting doctors to severe, stressful predicaments, angry reprimands, even excessive fines for rushing to a call of duty.

This is a far cry from what I experienced in other countries. I recall, as chief resident in obstetrics in New Jersey, USA, I received a call from a junior resident on duty who was attending to a house case needing my assistance. I rushed from a luncheon conference and sped along a New Jersey highway. I was not aware that a police helicopter up in the sky was monitoring my car. The allowable, normal speed was 50 miles per hour at night and 60 mph during the day. I was hitting the highway at 110 mph in that run.


A motorcycle cop chased me and asked, “Why the hurry?” I told him, “Sir, I have an emergency call from the hospital.” He placed his ticket book back into his pocket and instead escorted me with blinking lights to the hospital.

In America, the “devil eyes” of policemen on traffic violators turn into “friendly angel eyes” on doctors in an emergency. Hopefully, in the Philippines, this kind of “heavenly assistance” will also be extended for the sake of patients in need of emergency medical care.

SANTIAGO A. DEL ROSARIO, MD, former president, Philippine Medical Association

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