Thursday December 14, 2017
Home Indian Diaspora Miles to go t...

Miles to go to cleanse the Indian healthcare system: Dr. Kunal Saha

0
281

images (1)

Kolkata: His relentless fight might have taken away the ‘untouchable shield’ from doctors guilty of medical negligence, but Indian American doctor Kunal Saha insists there are miles to go to cleanse the Indian healthcare system – plagued by corruption and inefficiency.

Having lost his wife in 1998 to faulty medical treatment, Saha’s unrelenting pursuit for justice bore fruit 15 years later when the Supreme Court in October 2013 directed Kolkata’s AMRI Hospital and three of its doctors to pay the highest-ever compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore (nearly $2 million).

Shuttling between the US and Kolkata, veering from one court to another and taking on the might of a corrupt administration and battling his own occupational fraternity, Saha’s fight for his beloved wife Anuradha is the stuff of a Bollywood film where justice eventually pervades over all evil.

But Saha, often hailed as a ‘one man army’, insists the war is yet to be won.

“Our fight surely has instilled some degree of trepidation in the minds of the hitherto ‘untouchable’ negligent and unscrupulous medicos. But we still have a long, long way to go before winning our battle for establishing a standard and corruption-free healthcare delivery system for all patients of India,” the Columbus (Ohio)-based Saha told IANS in an email interview.

While the medico-legal scenario in India may have undergone a change since Anuradha’s fateful death, Saha says it was yet not adept enough to counter medical negligence that has been assuming alarming proportions in the country.

“We have moved ahead from the days of medico-legal cases being virtually non-existent, but most cases of medical malpractice are dismissed by the consumer courts primarily due to the lack of supporting opinions from medical experts.

“In order to maintain their ‘untouchable’ status, doctors in India are reluctant to come forward and truthfully testify against their errant medical colleagues, unlike in the Western countries,” said Saha.

Besides the high costs involved in legal proceedings, Saha points to the paltry amount of compensation awarded against the errant medicos which fail to have any deterrent effect.

“How can a precious human life be worth even less than a second-hand car in India,” Saha wondered.

The professor and private consultant in HIV/AIDS squarely blames the Medical Council of India (MCI) and its state bodies for the ‘plummeting standards’ of the Indian heathcare system, despite being a highly profitable venture.

“Corruption has been the biggest bane but the worst role in this regard is played by the MCI and state medical councils. They function more to shield their errant medical colleagues. Hardly any doctor is found guilty by them despite continuous horrific stories of innocent patients dying from medical negligence,” alleged Saha.

He also expressed alarm over the mushrooming private medical colleges, mostly with inadequate infrastructure and faculty.

“The sheer number of private medical colleges is glaring evidence that money, not merit, has taken over the medical education system in India. In lieu of capitation fees, these colleges are churning out poorly-trained doctors every year by the hundreds,” Said Saha, squarely blaming the MCI for the state of affairs.

“The Indian government must wake up and stem the rot in the present medical system. All medical councils must be reformed with honest and competent doctors who would not hesitate to revoke the medical licences of unskilled and untrained doctors in order to protect the vulnerable patients,” Saha insisted.

In order to promote a corruption-free healthcare and support victims of medical negligence fight for justice, Saha has set up the Kolkata-headquartered People for Better Treatment (PBT), which now has branches in a number of cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Bangalore.

The PBT now has a long list of victims of medical negligence including the likes of movie stars, singers, sportspersons, lawyers and even political leaders.

It’s the PBT public interest litigation that led the Supreme Court to introduce two new provisions in the MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations.

The new provisions mandate the state councils to decide a complaint against a doctor within six months and empower a victim of alleged medical negligence to file an appeal with the MCI against the decision of the state medical council.

“PBT has not been able to reach much of the remote corners of India despite our best intention and untiring work by numerous altruistic volunteers, many of whom are victims of medical malpractice themselves,” said Saha.

Talking about his seemingly impossible fight that even forced him to file for bankruptcy, Saha asserts his battle is not against doctors.

“This was a seemingly impossible battle where I had suffered many setbacks. I had to pay an enormous price, personally, professionally and financially, in order to win this almost impossible battle for medical justice in India. In fact, I had to file for bankruptcy in 2010 and also had to foreclose my home in Ohio in 2011.

“But it was and still is a true crusade for me. This battle is not against the doctors. My fight is not only for my wife but for the countless Anuradhas who are dying needlessly in hospitals across India every day,” Saha asserted.

(IANS)

Next Story

Exclusive: ‘The Ethical Doctor’ Author Dr Kamal Mahawar explains Grim side of the noble medical profession in India

The Quacks,Touts and the Compensations, Dr. Kamal Mahawer covers all aspects of the medical field which is now turning into a business

0
348
The Ethical Doctor Cover

A sixty-year-old man with chest pain goes to his local family doctor. Chest pain is a common clinical condition and can result from a number of conditions. However, it promptly takes a patient to the doctor because deep inside, every patient is worried that it could be due to a heart problem. Family doctors and cardiologists are aware of this fear in patients’ minds and will not hesitate to exploit it.  When the survival of your own family is at stake and when the hospital has given you targets to achieve for the month, even the most conscientious cardiologist will not hesitate in recommending stenting even if it is not strictly necessary or required at all.- Excerpt from “The Ethical Doctor”

Sept 04, 2016: It’s been a long night, alternating between cups of coffee and a monstrous packet of chips, I had imagined sporadically about life without a uterus like the forty-year lady mentioned briefly in the book ’The Ethical doctor’. It started off as a casual read after an evening of friendly banter with a couple of doctor friends over medical corruption. I wouldn’t lie; the words did take me off guard but I played along dumbly. Corruption amongst the Gods; our hallelujah healers, how plausible is that?

‘Ethical doctor’ helped me climb the ladder from an atheistic to a realist. Closing the book cover that night, it was established that my newfound knowledge about Cuts and Commissions, Unnecessary Tests and Treatment and more on the similar lines could now easily piss off a doctor. I looked up the name of the author, Kamal Mahawar, unsurprisingly the man had many titles to adorn the name, he was a Bariatric Surgeon for Sunderland Royal Hospital, UK, an Associate Clinical Lecturer, an Editorial Board Member for “Obesity Surgery” and the Chairman of Webmed Limited. The book must be a Gospel message, I thought!

Dr. Kamal Mahawar
Dr. Kamal Mahawar. Image source: Twitter

A man practicing in UK writes a book about Indian medical conduct, undoubtedly there will be questions thrown at him. I had my own set in a thought bubble over my head that needed answers that night.

Days later, I (Reporter Karishma Vanjani) got a chance to pen them down for Newsgram, after an interview with Doctor Kamal, himself. *Self-applauds*

A distant hum in the background was the only sound accompanying the unmissed anticipation of the conversation. I broke the ice by questioning him about his journey to becoming a veritable doctor-writer, in the likes of Danielle Ofri.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

  • Karishma: So, What inspired you to move out of the hospital corridors and turn into an author cum doctor?

Dr. Mahawar: It’s an honor to be referred by this label. I wouldn’t want to give you a very clichéd answer but years after I settled into my role as a doctor, I thought to myself what have I given to a country that gave me a free medical education and so much more. My stint in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was part of the same journey; a journey to find ways to contribute to the Indian society without shadowing a judgment on it.

Now, we can’t deny that there are problems in the system that goes deep. I mean as a surgeon, I can come back and maybe do 20 operations a month but even if 100’s or 1000’s of surgeons like me went back, it won’t change anything, will it? Problems are profound and it was only when I realized the importance of addressing the structure of the system in place that I started writing.

  • Karishma: Your book “The Ethical Doctor” talks about how easy it is to dupe people when it comes to the matters of life and death. It has a very good insight into the medical profession in India. The readers would love to know about your life in India that helped you understand more on the lines of Medical fraud.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

Dr. Mahawar: From 1991-2011, I played my role in India-  learning, practicing and absorbing the people and the environment around me. I also went back to Delhi for seven months in 2014, but sadly I couldn’t work looking at how the system functioned. Today, as a columnist for the Indian medical times, I say things impartially. I have written several opinion pieces in the last 3-4 months and people do come out and criticize you. However, I believe that till the time you don’t put your self-interest aside, the society won’t move forward. Everything I know, I tried to share it through my book and that’s all I have done.

  • Karishma: Would you like to comment on the Kidney racket in Mumbai’s Hiranandani, hospital? This has been the first time senior doctors at a large institute in the city have been arrested for unethical medical practices. There are arrests and pre-arrest bail pleas are being made, let’s just say there must be an absolute havoc in the hospital?

Dr. Mahawar: You’ll actually find a blog on this topic by me on the Indiatimes portal. I would like to say that it’s not just doctors and hospital owners who need to do some soul-searching here. Why would there be an incentive for a doctor to cheat if he’s rewarded properly? Doctors pass out with 10 years of experience as their leverage but also a family to pay for. If you pay him 20,000 a month how do you expect him to survive?

A lot of my Indian friends in England say they want to go back to India but they are so put off by the nature of the practice that they would rather not. Where are the jobs for people to go to? We talk about doctor’s being unethical but has the government created a system where people can go and work after qualifying? Where is the system?

Dr. Kamal Mahawar, a man of expertise, experience and understanding will show you the good bad and the ugly side of the most revered profession in the world through his book. By the end of the interview, he happily disclosed that there’s another book in the pipeline and we, here at Newsgram wish him the very best for it! Dr. Mahawar can be contacted at @kmahawar 

– Interviewed by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

Next Story

Haryana hospital admits fake patients for license

0
120

Kurukshetra (Haryana): You have seen Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ wherein a young man passes himself off as the protagonist during a pre-medical entrance examination. But a private hospital in Haryana’s Kurukshetra has gone a step further allegedly admitting fake patients to show bed strength ahead of its mandatory inspection by the Medical Council of India (MCI).

Adesh Hospital in Kurukshetra allegedly paid villagers to pose as patients on October 3 in order to meet the MCI guidelines that state that a hospital seeking to admit 100 MBBS students must have 600 beds with at least 70 percent patient occupancy.

A person, an alleged employee of the hospital, can be heard in an audio clip offering money to villagers for posing as patients. A probe has been ordered by the state government in this regard.

JD Singh, a former village head, alleged that he had got a phone call from their employee who offered to give Rs 200 to each villager who would pose as a patient before the inspection team from the state health department.

“Sir, we need people from your village…tomorrow there is (an) inspection at our college. The health minister is coming. We want to take these people with us. We will admit them as patients. They just have to pose as patients. We will arrange free food and pay Rs. 200 per person,” the alleged employee is heard telling Singh.

The hospital, however, denied that the alleged person in the audio clip was an employee.

Next Story

Revealed: Medical Colleges in India knee deep in corruption

0
456

Students_of_azeezia_medical_college

By NewsGram Staff Writer

July 2015: Last month, Reuters carried a special report titled “Why India’s medical schools are plagued with fraud?” that exposed various kinds of corruption that ail Indian medical schools.

They investigated into the working of the Muzaffarnagar Medical College, which is located 80 miles northeast of New Delhi. The college has been found to be using fake “patients” in its hospitals whenever there is a government inspection to check whether there were enough patients to provide students with adequate clinical experience.

The report claims that through a four-month investigation, they have documented the full extent of the fraud in India’s medical education system.

Some of the highlights of the report that bring forward the extent of corruption in the medical system are as follows-

1. Among the 398 medical schools present in the country, one out of every six of them have been accused of cheating.
2. To pass government inspections, medical colleges regularly use recruitment agencies to hire doctors to pose as full time faculties.
3. The medical colleges also hire healthy people to act as patients during inspections.
4. According to government records, since 2010 at least 69 medical colleges and teaching hospitals have been accused of frauds ranging from hiring doctors and fake patients to rigging entrance exams and accepting bribes.
5. Bribery is very rampant. Medical schools accept bribes under the guise of donations. The Medical Council of India which is supposed to regulate medical education itself mired in various lawsuits.
6. The crisis of the Indian medical system can been seen manifested in Indian doctors practicing abroad as well. According to Britain’s General Medical Council’s record, between 2008 and 2014, Indian-trained doctors were four times more likely to lose their right to practice than British­-trained doctors.
7. According to Indian Medical Association, about 45% of the people who practice medicine in India have no formal training.
8. The medical education in India began to decline after the change in law in 1990’s which made the process of opening private colleges in India a lot easier.Many of the private colleges have been set up by businessmen and politicians who have no experience in the medical field. This has resulted in corruption and poor education resulting in poor quality of doctors who pass out of these colleges.

The investigation also unearthed an email from Hi Impact Consultants to a doctor in New Delhi, offering to pay an amount of Rs-20,000/- a day, if the doctor agreed to appear for an inspection at Saraswathi Institute of Medical Sciences in Hapur, east of New Delhi.

As if to demonstrate that every cloud has a silver lining, the report quotes David Gordon, the president of World Federation for Medical Education as saying- “The best medical schools in India are absolutely world class”.