The recent Income Tax raids on five diagnostic centres and two in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) centres in Bengaluru have revealed a shocking money-making nexus between doctors and diagnostic laboratories that promises to further corrode the faith of patients in physicians. It was found that doctors received around 35 per cent of the amounts charged by diagnostic centres for MRI scans and 20 per cent for CT scans. The revelation, made by I-T officials last Saturday, appears to be just the tip of the iceberg with such malpractice apparently rampant throughout India.
The disturbing revelation of such a nexus only vindicates the already existing suspicions about the medical fraternity: That the doctor’s advice to visit diagnostic labs for an array of tests would only mean parting with hard-earned money to fill the pockets of greedy physicians. Unfortunately, the fault partly lies in the costly medical education. Medical professionals begin earning satisfactorily at least a decade later than their same-aged counterparts in other fields.
Having to enter the race to affluence with that handicap forces doctors resort to the Machiavellian ‘ends-justify-the-means’ technique. Conscience—and of course the Hippocratic Oath—take a back seat. Loans taken to meet the extravagant costs of medical education need to be repaid at the earliest. It is here that the rot needs to be stemmed if such nexuses are to be prevented in the future.
It is up to the Central and state governments to adequately subsidise medical education and regulate costs in private institutions as well. Conscience and ethics, of course, have to be seeded at home. Another aspect of the problem is the corporatisation of the health sector, which has led to a situation where bottom lines matter more than service ethics. Governments will do well to step in time and again to monitor the activities of healthcare facilities and take all efforts to end the unholy nexuses that thrive by exploiting the