Docs in the dock
Editorial

Docs in the dock

June 19, 2017

Private medical establishments and Karnataka government have just got entangled over the former offering healthcare services at costs making big holes in the pockets of patients and their families, while alleviating the pains of the suffering lot in the process. One is prompted to point out in this context the utterly under-prepared infrastructure and thoroughly unsatisfactory medical services in the government-managed establishments, both issues having been aired by public at large for long, waiting patiently for the dawn of ache din (good times). While people of different sections in the population can avail help in meeting the medical expenses, fully or partially, through Employees State Insurance, MedSave, Yashaswini Scheme for the farming fraternity and so on, the benefits cover a minor fraction of the land’s total headcount. Even measures such as capping drug prices and making it compulsory for doctors to prescribe generic medicines, like most other seemingly people-friendly measures, have remained poorly implemented, leaving the suffering masses high and dry.

Government of Karnataka has belatedly responded last week to the public outcry against steep ascendency of the tariff charged by private hospitals and nursing homes in the State to cause hasty reaction from the doctor fraternity by staying away from holding outpatient services in private medical institutions, thus making the suffering lot to be sandwiched between the government and the doctors.

In the ongoing threesome game with the State government, private medical establishments and public, the doctors, as a distinct fraternity in society, have been portrayed as villainous. In turn, the private hospital doctors have alleged that the State government, by bringing in the amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act 2007 was trying to project them as criminals. It is not in good taste to stereotype the  medical profession as an agency of exploiting the helpless public, just because of some bad apples in the profession.  The lines “Vaidyaraj namastubhyam, Yamaraj sahodar; Yamastu harati pranan, Vaidya pranan dhananich cha” (salutations to doctor-king, brother of yama – the death lord; yama takes away only life, doctor takes away both life and cash), attributed to an unknown wit portray the skewed public perception of the medical profession.

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As usual, the ongoing tussle may fizzle out as time passes with the two warring sides yielding some ground to each other. Public may have to see some reason not to isolate private hospitals for raising tariffs considering the fact of the pool of all other services (carpenter, plumber, electrician, porters, repairers of  kitch gadgets, vendors of perishables, civil work labourers, home-delivery boys and so on) asking for more money in return for their services. Asking doctors only to offer their services with a discount is like seeking potable water amidst the salt-water in seas.

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