Protection to Doctors is fine; What about Protection to Patients from fleecing & Ending Unethical Practices

Hyderabad: As many as 68.7 per cent of the people, out of the seven lakh across the country whose views were elicited on Health issues in a Study conducted by GOQii, have opined that Hospitals are untrustworthy. The survey report pointed towards a lack of trust in doctors and Pharma companies, with 68.7 per cent of them saying hospitals were untrustworthy and 42 per cent complaining about pharma companies.

A huge percentage of people saying that they don’t have trust in doctors is something astounding and calls for immediate attention of the authorities concerned, the medical profession itself and the organizations connected with Medical professionals, such as the Indian Medical Council. The survey results show that there is definitely something wrong with the doctors and private hospitals, as also the pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs and medicines. The Governments of the day, both at the Centre and in States have an onerous responsibility to go deeper into the state of affairs of the doctors and private hospitals, the reasons for the people not having trust in the doctors, and then taking deterrent measures to stem the rot, fix the erring doctors and private hospitals and punish them effectively, and bring necessary changes in the medical and public health sectors, to ensure that the trust in the medical profession among the people is restored to earlier decades, when the profession had a glorious history of service-mindedness and earned the praise of the society.

Needless to say, there are a number of incidents wherein some sections of the doctors at some of the noted corporate hospitals have allegedly indulged in unethical medical practices with the sole aim of making money. Reports earlier mentioned about a corporate hospital treating a patient for two, three days after his death; an RMP referring some hundreds of youngsters from some villages to a corporate Hospital, where surgeries were conducted on them even for small ailments like stomach ache, as the Hospital made money and paid to the RMP for each case sent by him, and the like.

This journalist recently took an auto to reach home after collecting X-ray and other reports from a well-known diagnostic lab in Dilsukhnagar area. Seeing the cover containing the reports in my hand, the auto driver surprised me BY asking whether I am aware of the fact that some of the Doctors get 25 to 30 per cent from the diagnostic labs and that was why they insist on getting the tests done at a particular lab and in some cases, they prescribe even unnecessary tests to boost the bill. When I said that the doctors might get about 10 per cent, the auto driver laughed at me and insisted that some of the doctors get 25 to 30 per cent and that a Doctor himself has told him about this. Not only that, the auto driver said some of the doctors get commission even from the pharmacies and medical shops for the medicines prescribed for the patients.

There is a feeling among people that some of the doctors and corporate hospitals are indulging in unethical practices and fleecing the patients, taking advantage of their lack of knowledge about health matters and also the anxiety of the patients and their relatives to save the life. Referring to the recent incident in the city wherein the relatives of a patient resorted to vandalism in a hospital, the action being taken by the police against them for attacking the doctors, and the assurances given by the authorities to the Hospital staff and doctors, many feel that while there is a Law to protect the doctors and hospitals from attacks, there is no law to safeguard the interests of the patients from unethical medical practices and fleecing by some of the corporate hospitals, and the Medical bodies are not effectively dealing with unscrupulous doctors and hospitals. While there can be no objection for providing adequate protection to doctors and hospitals, the other side of the coin cannot be totally ignored, and there is need for safeguarding the patients from unwanted fleecing. The Medical bodies and the Government would do well to bestow their attention on this aspect also, many feel.