IN A bid to give people a deeper understanding of ethical practices in medicine, a new book, Dissenting Diagnosis, authored by Pune-based Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Abhay Shukla has hit the city’s bookstores.
The book records interviews of 78 doctors, who have courageously spoken against malpractices followed in the medical sector, and offers solutions to encourage patient-doctor dialogue. Gadre and Shukla took the initiative to list down malpractices in the profession and recorded testimonies of 78 doctors from across the country, who have exposed corruption in the medical profession. The book was initially published in Marathi a year ago. The English version of the book also has provided a huge section on solutions required to counter the menace and has been published by Random House India.
In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, the authors who are senior health experts associated with city-based NGO Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI) said it was a challenge to find ethical doctors who would speak fearlessly about the real situation in the health industry.
According to Gadre, 35 of the 78 doctors were willing to disclose their identities. “The decision to write a book came about during a casual discussion on documenting patients’ problems. There were so many views regarding degeneration of medical practices. It slowly gathered momentum and 78 doctors from clinics to large corporate hospitals started giving us their views,”
“We have recorded personal experiences of a large cross-section of doctors cutting across specialities,” Dr Shukla said. Among the testimonies are examples ranging from prescribing highly-priced drugs to recommending unnecessary surgical procedures. Even a normal fever is shown as dengue or in worst case scenario, how operations are botched up. Evidences have been recorded for instances on how a super-specialist urologist had to leave a corporate hospital because a young manager castigated him for not performing a particular operation for removal of a kidney stone where there was no need for any such procedure.
“Just as shopping malls have come up to sell groceries and consumer goods, corporate and large multi-specialty private hospitals have come up to sell medical services. Majority of these hospitals are not owned by doctors. Seeing the large profits to be made in private medical sector, non-medical investors are pouring money into these private medical businesses to maximise returns on their investment,” the authors have written in the book. Dr Vijay Ajgaonkar, a senior Mumbai-based diabetologist, has been quoted in the book as saying, “If you look at the issue objectively, it is not our role to make money by taking advantage of another person’s illness. But this is exactly what is happening. They put terminally ill 70 to 80-year-olds on ventilators, keeping the hospital meter running by unnecessarily using the ICU and ventilator.”
Another shocking malpractice described in the book is that some doctors give patients a dose of anesthesia before claiming to perform a required surgery, and then just perform some stitches and pretend that the surgery has been done. Yet another revelation is that many diagnostic labs pay commissions of between 30% and 50% to doctors for referring patients to the labs.