Taking a stern view of the practice of paying doctors a commission for referring patients for hospitalisation or ‘cut practice’, which is allegedly followed in the privately-run Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Andheri, the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has decided to issue a “warning notice” to the hospital’s management and approach municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte for action against the hospital.
“Even though the hospital has accepted its mistake, we discussed the matter in the committee meeting and decided to draft a letter to the BMC commissioner which has the power to control the hospital’s license. If the ‘cut practice’ is not controlled, patient’s interests will be harmed,” Dr Kishor Taori, president of the MMC told Newsline. The BMC has authority to cancel the hospital’s license to operate.
The move to send a warning notice to the upscale hospital comes after the MMC, a statutory body that regulates and registers all allopathic doctors in the state, received a complaint from a few doctors employed by the hospital. They said they were lured with cuts for getting more patients hospitalized. The MMC had subsequently issued a show-cause notice to the hospital.
In an e-mail response to Newsline, Kokilaben hospital’s executive director Dr Ram Narain said, “We have received the notice from the MMC and have sent our response in writing to the Council .”
An MMC official said, “Few doctors approached us with forms they were given by the hospital.”
The two-page Elite Forum form allegedly circulated by the hospital stated that a ‘reward’ of Rs 1 lakh will be given for 40 admissions by a single doctor in a year. The commission amount increases to Rs 1.5 lakh for 50 admissions and to Rs 2.5 lakh for 75 admissions in a year, barring day care admission under the refereeing doctor.
Taori said, “The hospital had circulated ‘Elite forum’ forms to several doctors which stated that rewards will be given for the number of admissions the doctors get. The way the hospital has openly offered cuts is a blatant ethical violation in the medical field. As a statutory body, we can send them a warning.”
The MMC in its show-cause notice pointed out that under Section 6.4.1 and 6.4.2 of Medical Council of India Act, giving or receiving rebates and commission for recommending or procuring any patient is a violation of the code of conduct, for which the hospital was accountable.
After the MMC issued the show-cause notice to the hospital on May 12, it received a response from the hospital on June 12 in which the latter assured to ‘withdraw the scheme with immediate effect’. In the response filed by Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital, the management said that ‘the offering of incentives to doctors was a case of over enthusiasm by the marketing department’.
On Wednesday last week, the MMC president also met the state medical education minister Jitendra Awhad to discuss measures to control the cut-practice that is widely rampant across the state. “The minister has extended us full autonomy in this matter and has assured that MMC’s methods to stop the cut-practice would not be blocked,” Taori said.