What ails our healthcare system? Australian medical practitioner blows the whistle

Dr Berger highlights how kickbacks and bribes oil every part of the healthcare machinery.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: June 27, 2014 12:55 pm
Dr Berger's article draws attention to the “unvirtuous circle” of donations and fees in private institutions generating a debt burden, making doctors more open to corruption. The article draws attention to the “unvirtuous circle” of donations and fees in private institutions generating a debt burden, making doctors more open to corruption.

Is there a lack of will to reform the evil practices in our healthcare system? Australian medical practitioner Dr David Berger who volunteered as a physician at a charitable hospital in the Himalayas answers in the affirmative. Writing for the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Dr Berger highlights how “kickbacks and bribes oil every part of the healthcare machinery.”

Dr Berger’s article draws attention to the “unvirtuous circle” of donations and fees in private institutions generating a debt burden, making doctors more open to corruption. This would be news to readers of a UK journal, but not to the Indian medical community. It also talks about the system of kickbacks and gratifications that flourishes in clinical practice.

Unscrupulous doctors prescribe unnecessary drugs and specific brands at the pecuniary urging of pharmaceutical companies, and order irrelevant tests for kickbacks. Medical organisations secure certification by dodgy means. These, too, are known evils.

The article has seen response in the form of an editorial by a noted doctor in India, and a campaign against corruption in healthcare by BMJ that will start with a focus on India.

Dr Samiran Nundy, noted gastroenterologist and surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital who is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Current Medicine Research and Practice, published by the same hospital, has written an editorial in response to Dr Berger’s piece that appeared Tuesday.

Dr Nundy highlights the difficulties in getting admission in an MBBS course and the problems in “five star corporate hospitals” where the “temptation” to do “unnecessary investigations like CT scans and MRIs” and perform “unnecessary procedures like caesarian sections, hysterectomies” is “hard to resist”, and in pubic hospitals where “professors and associate professors fight over who should treat VIPs and wait on them…leaving the care of the poor to their junior colleagues”.

The government and the medical community know that such practices are eroding the public trust in doctors. Did they have to wait for a practitioner from overseas to blow the whistle, yet again?

 

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  1. A
    Alisina
    Jun 27, 2014 at 9:05 am
    Medical school tuition fees is much higher in the US. The same debt logic doesn't hold any good there. What has happened in India is a complete rupture of our society's moral fabric in the last 2-3 decades.Things are same in all sectors; be it healthcare, education, etc.
    Reply
    1. B
      Brian Torchin
      Jun 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm
      Seems like this should be a major focus right now.
      Reply
      1. G
        Girish
        Jun 27, 2014 at 7:23 am
        now this is something real that Dr. Harsh Vardhan could focus on, instead of policing people's lives.
        Reply
        1. G
          Gangu true
          Jun 27, 2014 at 7:26 am
          this is having only 5000 open medical seats Nation wide in a country of one hundred and twenty odd crores. If not mal practice, then what else do you expect to flourish? And we are so brain dead that we need a Australian whistle bolwer to show us those resultant practices?
          Reply
          1. N
            Namasivayam.N
            Jun 27, 2014 at 7:20 am
            The corruption in the health care system should be one of the 'thrust areas' of the anti-corruption drive of the central govt.
            Reply
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