Friday, August 19, 2016

Military Medicine – “Doctors” in Uniform


MILITARY MEDICINE (Military Style Health Care)

A Fictional Spoof


When anyone asks me about life in the Armed Forces (the Army, the Navy, or, the Air Force)  I tell them to read the famous World War II Novel CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller.

If you have served in the Defence Services  in all probability  you would have read Catch-22  and even if you have not read it  you would have experienced the essence of Catch-22.

Are you are a motivated youngster who intends joining the Army, Navy or Air Force...?

I suggest you read Catch-22  so that you will be well prepared for the inimitable characters and unique situations you will encounter during your military service.

In CATCH-22 there is a character called Doc Daneeka – a Medical Officer or MO (as military doctors are called).

His style of diagnosis and treatment is simple.

In fact  Doc Daneeka has succeeded in elevating medicine to an exact science.

Doc Daneeka fully delegates diagnosis and treatment to his assistants – two soldiers called “Gus” and “Wes”

These two soldiers run the healthcare system in the military unit on their own with so much efficiency  that Doc Daneeka is left with nothing to do  which is fine with him  since he hates medical practice anyway.

The modus operandi of the Military Healthcare System is as follows:

All “patients” (who report on sick parade) have a thermometer shoved into their mouths and have their temperature taken.

1. Those with body temperatures above 102 degrees Fahrenheit are rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

2. Those having temperatures below 102 degrees Fahrenheit have their gums and throats painted with gentian violet (throat paint) and are given a dose of laxative to clear their stomachs and digestive systems.

3. Those who have a temperature of exactly 102 degrees Fahrenheit are told to come after one hour to have their temperature taken again so that the line of treatment could be decided as follows:

(a) Temperature more than 102 – rush to hospital

(b) Temperature less than 102 – throat paint + laxative to clear digestive system

4. After one hour  if a patient’s temperature is still 102  he is asked to keep reporting to the clinic every one hour  till his temperature either goes above 102  or his temperature comes down below 102  so that he could be treated accordingly  as per option 1 or option 2 above. 

During my long service in the Navy – and in inter-service establishments – I came across many such “Doc Daneeka” style Doctors in the Military.

You cannot escape these “Doc Daneeka” types even after retirement – since they pursue you in the ECHS too.


I have observed another “Doc Daneeka” technique  used sometimes by the ECHS in its clinics  since it works better when dealing with ageing old retired veteran senior citizen ex-servicemen (who are considered a nuisance).

There is a saying: “Time is a great healer”.

The essence of this ECHS technique is to make the patients wait indefinitely in the crowded waiting room of the clinic  and let “time” do the “healing”.

On reporting to the ECHS clinic  the hapless old-aged frail unwell senior citizen ex-serviceman is made to stand in a long queue  and then he is given a chit. 

Of course – before this – they try to get rid of the veteran by raking up some issue about his ECHS Card – and – the hapless veteran is sent on a wild goose paperwork chase and put in a red-tape spin.

But – if the veteran is lucky – then the sick old man is made to wait indefinitely  for a long time  in a congested jam-packed waiting hall.

Four things can happen to the patient  a sick and ailing old man  while he waits at the ECHS clinic:

1. The patient drops dead.

In this case  no further treatment is required at the clinic

2. The patient faints  he becomes unconscious  or he goes into a delirium  as he becomes seriously ill.

In this case  he is rushed to the nearest Military Hospital

3. The patient gets fed up of waiting at the ECHS Clinic  and so  he goes to the nearest private clinic for treatment for which he has to pay from his own pocket.

The ECHS view is that though ECHS contribution is forcibly deducted and membership of the healthcare scheme is mandatory  it is the patient’s personal choice whether to avail ECHS treatment  or to go to a private medical practitioner – so ECHS is quite happy if the military veteran goes elsewhere for medical treatment – thereby  unburdening ECHS load. 

4. If the military veteran patient persists in waiting at the ECHS clinic – he is got rid off by referring him to an empanelled civilian hospital 

If you wonder what happens to the sick military veteran patient when he is referred to an empanelled civilian hospital – well – the horror stories could easily fill a huge tome – and more.

5. Well – there can be a happy experience too – for the military veteran patient who perseveres in waiting for many hours at the ECHS clinic

The patient actually starts feeling well during the waiting period – the sick veteran is cured by the long relaxed wait.

After all  rest is the best cure for many illnesses.

Now – since he has become well  the veteran does not need any medical treatment at the ECHS Clinic – so he can go away happy  after spending a leisurely relaxed day at the ECHS clinic. 

Dear Military Veteran: Do visit an ECHS clinic and tell us whether you see the Doc Daneekas around – and their style of treatment of patients. 

THE DOC DANEEKA PRINCIPLE : Make Patients Disappear 
(Ultimate Goal = Zero Patients)

Remember  the cardinal Doc Daneeka Principle is to make patients disappear and realize your ultimate goal of a “Zero Patient” situation.

ABD – in this direction – I think the ECHS is trying hard by introducing more and more “hurdles” like increasing red-tape and paperwork  introducing hassles like repeated renewal of cards etc – locating clinics in inaccessible distant places – and trying its best to make patients go elsewhere to seek medical treatment – so that soon  ECHS achieves its ultimate goal of zero patients

By the way  it was also a “Doc Daneeka” type masterstroke by the Armed Forces in the 1980s – when the Defence Services abdicated responsibility for post-retirement healthcare of their own veteran retired ex-servicemen by creating a new organisation called ECHS – and they effectively passed the buck of post-retirement healthcare to ECHS.



There are many excellent doctors and brilliant specialists in uniform  but most of the professionally outstanding “fauji” medical officers are posted at VIP Military Hospitals in New Delhi and large stations like Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Bangalore etc where abundant medical facilities already exisit in civilian hospitals.

There are many first-rate doctors posted in smaller units also.

So – by and large – there may be more “Doc Daneekas” in smaller units/ships – but  if you observe carefully  you can spot a few “Doc Daneekas” in big military hospitals too – like - the pediatrician who hated children.

Yes – a pediatrician is a child-specialist – and is supposed to like children – but this child-specialist hated children.

This happened long back – when my kids were small – in Vizag – when I came across this unique “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” Pediatrician – a lady doctor in uniform – a child-specialist who hated children.

Yes – believe it not – she was a Pediatrician who hated children.

This Child-Specialist “Fauji” Doctor was unmarried  she had no experience of handling children  and worse  she hated children.

This child-hater Pediatrician was a “Doc Daneeka in Uniform” specimen of a different kind. 

Her tactic was to avoid seeing children (who she hated).

She insisted on proper “paper work” – and  she would not see sick children unless you had got a “referral” through proper channel. 

If anyone took their child/baby to her directly – she would scream and create a scene – and – shout at the hapless parents to follow proper procedure – and get a proper referral from their unit/ship doctor or general OPD.

The result was that  due to all these hassles and delays  the parents of sick children took their children to civilian doctors (paying from their pockets).

So – hardly any children-patients reached the child-hater Pediatrician  and she was having a relaxed tenure. 


Luckily  we had a Command Medical Officer (a Surgeon Commodore)  who was an exception to the rule – he was certainly not a Doc Daneeka in Uniform – in fact – he was a genuine Doctor in Uniform.

Ths Surgeon Commodore – the Command Medical Officer (CMO) – was himself a renowned pediatrician  an outstanding child-specialist – and he loved children. 

Yes – he was a Pediatrician who loved children – unlike the young lady child-hater Pediatrician in the Naval Hospital. 

Now – Command Medical Officer (CMO) was a staff appointment – so his job was to push files in Headquarters. 

Had he been a typical Doc Daneeka in Uniform – he would have preferred to do paperwork rather than treat patients – but – the CMO was a genuine doctor who wanted to practice medicine. 

He opened a Child OPD in his office in Command Headquarters  and  we all used to take our children to him for treatment.

However – even this magnanimous act of the CMO had no effect on the shameless “Doc Daneeka in Uniform child-hater lady pediatrician – who seemed to be quite happy at the turn of events  since now – everyone took their children to the CMO – so the lady “Doc Daneeka” child-hater child-specialist had to see no children-patients  whom she hated anyway.


In order to understand why there are so many Doc Daneekas in Uniform – let me give you a simple illustrative example.

Suppose there a two surgeons. 

The first surgeon does 100 surgeries per month.

The second surgeon does only 10 surgeries per month.

In Private Practice – it is obvious that the first surgeon (who does more surgical operations) will earn more money – and the surgeon who performs more surgeries will also progress faster up the ladder of professional success and fame.

In case of “Fauji” Doctors – it does not matter – because – whether you do 100 surgeries per month – or  10 surgeries a month – or – even if you do zero surgeries per month – you will get a fixed monthly pay as per your rank and seniority – and – promotion is by seniority – so you have to wait in the queue for your turn to come – irrespective of your merit and work performance.

If someone has joined before you – he is ahead of you in the queue – and so – he will get promoted before you.

So – a “Fauji” Doctor sitting in Headquarters pushing files will get the same pay as his batchmate who is slogging it out treating patients in a military hospital.

And – in case the File Pushing White-Collar Babu “Fauji” Doctor has joined the Army Medical Corps earlier (and is senior in service) – the White-Collar Babu “Fauji” Doctor will be promoted earlier than the Professional “Fauji” Doctor who is actually practicing medicine in the field – in accordance with the sacrosanct principle of seniority.

So – maybe – it is the system” – which creates so many Doc Daneekas in Uniform.

I am sure you have read about some of my hilarious encounters with these “Doc Daneeka” style “Fauji” Doctors in my blog – of course – I will tell you some more from time to time. 

Now let me ask you the moot question: 

If you are thinking of studying medicine – would you like to be a Doc Daneeka in Uniform...? 

Ha Ha

And – Dear Military Veterans – did you encounter any Doc Daneekas in Uniform during your service or after retirement...? 


Do tell us about your experiences.

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1. This blog post is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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This article was written by me Vikram Karve 5 years ago in 2011 and posted online by me Vikram Karve a number of times in my blogs including at urls:  and and etc

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