Thomas King’s The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative Book Reflection
Nurul Matkamil 1160337
At the beginning of every chapter, Thomas King would start off with a story of the earth riding on a turtle’s back. The point he wanted to drive home with this is that when circumstances deny you of having even the right of identity, all you really have are your stories that you must tell to assert your individuality. It just goes to show that sometimes circumstances have not been kind to certain parties and some voices will go unheard if no one spares a thought to consider all interests equally. In the last chapter, he talked about the story of the wolf taking away the ducks’ feather after promising them “protection”. He relates this with the behaviour of the government making treaties with the native people to “protect” them, but in reality, the legislations were there to monitor them, strip them of their land and erase their race by setting regulations to define who is or not an Indian. This is a profound illustration of how societies seek to control who gets access to what privileges or to resources creates an invisible majority.
This issue is especially prevalent in the health industry as some patients are made to go on a waitlist while some are denied treatment or access to diagnosis due to limited resources and having to prioritize who gets medical service first. Usually, either the legislation or the medical institute administration would have to make the call on how to distribute their resources for their patients. Sometimes there aren’t as enough drugs or imaging devices or doctors or beds in the hospital to cater to a growing line of patients, who may or may not need immediate treatment and diagnosis. So the hospital administration, too, cannot simply follow their best interests, and have to follow certain rules set by the government and think about the patients that they have to serve and treat. Since it is difficult to acquire enough resources to treat all patients, most regulations resort to putting certain criteria on the patients who will be treated first, which may not be fair, as whose rights is it to determine who deserves the first in line in getting treatment ?
As a biomedical engineer who works for a medical device instrumentation company who comes up with solutions for biomedical problems either by designing equipment or operating medical technology, one cannot simply turn away from the moral dilemma of catering to the best interests’ of the patients or users, but at the same time, certain legislations or protocols or conflicts of interests may hinder your efforts. This is because most of the time, the design you come up with has to comply with the constraints on the costs and the number of units that can be produced for a particular proposed design. Another complication that arises is the fact that for medical devices, especially implants, is difficult to find a one fit solution as it might have to be customized to each patient, this will increase the cost and not all patients can pay for it. Some government policies can have subsidies for such devices, but that is not often the case and government policies differ from one country to another. How one would resolve this conflict is by going back to the ethics code that both engineers and health care providers adhere to. The engineer, the PEO code of ethics and the health care practitioner, the Hippocratic Oath. In both codes of ethics, the main purpose is to serve the public interest and avoid doing harm to the people. If these interests can be conveyed cross-profession, they might come to an understanding of what is the priority in resolving these ethical dilemmas. In
some cases, due to a lack of communication, medical devices fail because both the health care practitioner and the engineer don’t appreciate the different requirements for the medical devices and this will endanger lives. Both professions should constantly communicate with each other and call attention to any unethical decisions. At the same time they should also listen to what the patient has to say and understand the predicaments the patients have to best serve them. Cost analyses to ensure that the medical device instrumentation is feasible can be done with economic evaluation techniques, and must be done with participation from all professions and input from the patients’ needs to ensure that it meets requirements. What the government can do is to make the policy-making process more inclusive so that they can get input from all the stakeholders as they go about it.
Of course, all of this would only happen if all parties are willing to listen to each other and to respect each other enough to not infringe each other’s’ rights. It is important to know what the different interests of each stakeholder are and find common ground for a win-win situation. After all, we don’t live on this world alone. If we stop listening to others and exclude them from the policy-building process, their voices will go unheard, and all they have left are just stories which may or may not even be heard.