Over a cup of evening tea
By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem
The Union Health Minister has recently announced that his government is determined to break the unholy fee-sharing nexus existing between practicing doctors and diagnostic centres which results in artificially escalated investigation charges. While there is no point in denying that the practice of labs and other diagnostic facilities paying cuts from their charges to referring doctors exists, monetary gain is not the only factor responsible for this.
The most important reason for unnecessary lab tests today which the government is very shy of admitting or highlighting is the consumer protection act which has brought medical practice too under its ambit although it has left out many other professions. To escape the noose of avoidable and malicious litigation doctors have no other option but to order tests to safeguard themselves in courts. Patients who tell doctors that they trust them like Gods remain so only as long as they give them the results they expect. If the real God wills otherwise and something goes wrong the tide of gratitude too turns otherwise.
I have seen many very efficient and reputed doctors losing cases and paying heavy compensations to patients just because they did not resort to this practice thinking that their clinical acumen and judgement would suffice to establish the correctness of their treatment approach. Right from the time when Hippocrates, the ‘father of medicine’, perhaps sensing that one day after he was long gone, his fraternity would need it, gave us his historic oath to swear on, doctors have been warned against fee-sharing.
Many other codes of medical ethics drafted by various nations across the globe have only stressed upon and strengthened his recommendations to ensure that the glow in the image of the medical profession is not marred even by the tiniest patch of tarnish. But what we have all...more