BENGALURU: The state will soon come out with a law to check unethical medical practices and to get first-hand information on how patients are duped.
National Law School of India University (NLSIU) is drafting the law for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Karnataka, said Prof Ashok R Patil, Chair of Consumer Law and Practice, National Law School. A panel of experts at NLSIU are trying to ensure that doctors and hospitals practice ethics in treating patients, he added. He was speaking at a panel discussion on the problems of ethics in medicine and the way forward.
He said each state is drafting its own health law. The Centre is waiting for a model law so that all other states can follow.
Dr Arun Gadre of the Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI), Pune, interviewed 78 ethical practitioners from different specialities, residing in small and big cities, who revealed the widespread unethical and irrational practices in the profession.
Many of these whistleblowers spoke anonymously and described the pressures they face to meet targets, pay commissions to keep other doctors happy and cover up other doctors’ mistakes.
The testimonies have been compiled into a book in Marathi, Kaifiyat, and the English version (co-authored by Dr Abhay Shukla) will soon be published by Penguin.
Dr Robert Antony, a private practitioner (paediatrician), said, “Most doctors want to render service and help the needy. Yet, they have been sucked into a system, part government and part private sector, where they cannot give honest service. Most of the time, they accept a commission because if they don’t, the next man will.”
One of the doctors recounted what a visitor to Bengaluru recently told him — “I went to a hospital with chest pain. They said that my condition was serious and wanted to perform a triple bypass surgery immediately, but I asked them to wait till my wife and son arrived from Mumbai.
“My wife, who is a doctor herself, disagreed with the diagnosis and wanted a second opinion. They refused, so we asked for a discharge. They told my wife that I could collapse at any time and that she was playing with my life. We then went to two other hospitals— both gave me a clean bill of health.”
Manu Tripathi, founder of the Hospital Guide Foundation, felt the healthcare mafia is probably bigger than the real estate mafia. But he added, “There are many honest doctors too.”
Nalini Shekhar, co-founder of Hasiru Dala, spoke on medical insurance and why it must reach the poor and the needy.
The meeting was organised by the Society for People’s Action for Development, Bangalore Birth Network, SATHI and Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action.