BENGALURU: Massive private investments in the medical sector to set up of corporate hospitals turning the field into a business, and the low doctor-patient ratio, is being blamed for the present malaise. However, doctors say this does not mean that every single doctor in the country is in this trap, even they admit that even if a small percentage is involved, it has spoilt the name of the entire profession.
A senior liver specialist from Bengaluru said a large part of medical practice is now privatised and further, with the entry of corporate companies into the field, healthcare has become a business which obviously has to be profitable for the investors.
“Unfortunately, doctors working in these large corporate hospitals are under direct or indirect pressure to generate more revenue and this leads to unnecessary investigations and medical procedures and cost of treatment skyrocketing,” says Dr Kaiser Raja, an hepatologist. “To generate enough revenue, doctors are often forced to see more patients which means that an individual patient gets less attention. Often, a lot of time goes in data entry into computers in the doctor’s clinic.”
Doctors say that with medical insurance picking up, doctors and hospitals are more liberal in expenditure and when patients pay such high prices, their expectations too are high. This then leads to angst against doctors and hospitals when things go wrong.
“It is not correct to blame doctors for the failure in the system. The government has to first bridge the patient-doctor ratio gap. They must invest in healthcare,” says a senior doctor of a private hospital.
Admitting that there is a tag of ‘business’ attached to the medical profession, a senior doctor says there is not much of teamwork among doctors because everyone wants to get business for one’s own self. “The opinion that a patient gets from different doctors may not be the same since it depends on an individual doctor’s interest to suggest a test or procedure. This has led to a lack of faith,” adds another doctor.
Besides, despite rules, pharma companies, private laboratories and radiology centres continue to woo doctors with incentives that leads to unnecessary tests and prescription of costly drugs, claim medical professionals.
The younger generation is shying away from taking up medicine for various reasons, the primary reason being the lack of respect it commanded several years ago, says a senior cardiologist, who also works as a medical inspector. “The way doctors are beaten up and sometimes even killed, sends shivers down the spine and we ourselves don’t want our children to take up medicine. I am a senior cardiologist … but my children didn’t take up medicine. They hate the profession,” he said.
“Practising your profession under such fear is not what one looks up to. Laws may exist … but don’t seem to protect doctors during such situations.Sometimes it is the powerful of the society who exploit the doctor by virtue of their position and the law becomes even more helpless,” rues another doctor.
Dr Jayaprakash, a senior cardiologist, says there is a gap in the patient-doctor ratio and that needs to be filled. Also public attitude towards doctors needto change or else there will be dearth of doctors in the country soon, he adds.
Dr C Ramachandra, Director, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology says, “One should have hunger and fire in his/her belly to earn a medical degree. It is unfortunate that public doesn’t understand the sacrifice of a doctor … sometimes, for days we don’t see our children and we work for 12 hours per day on an average. The society should have trust in doctors.”