The government Tuesday constituted a probe headed by the health secretary into allegations that doctors in Delhi are accepting payments as commission from diagnostic centres for referring patients to tests. The issue was the subject of a sting operation by the Hindi TV channel News Nation, which Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has taken cognisance of, he told the Lok Sabha Tuesday.
“Patients need to be protected from the nefarious practices thriving in the medical sector,” Vardhan told Parliament in a statement in the middle of a discussion on budgetary grants for the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The health ministry accepts that “the patient or consumer of the medical economy needs protection from such nefarious practices that have come to thrive under conditions created by lack of implementation of existing laws,” the statement read. “I have written to the Medical Council of India over the ethics of the medical profession,” the minister said.
The two-hour-long programme had shown doctors in the national capital allegedly agreeing to accept commission for sending patients to tests such as MRI and CT scan. “Although the programme did not name any doctor, it would not be difficult to identify them,” Vardhan said.
“The alleged practice is in clear violation of the MCI’s code of ethics, 2002. The MCI is to have a meeting and publish the minutes of the meeting on its website,” he said.
But he also said that the programme should not be used to pass a judgement on the whole fraternity of medical practitioners. “The channel has been requested to submit the DVD and the script of the programme,” he said.
The health ministry is also drawing up a panel of reputable medical practitioners and consumer law experts to suggest measures for introducing greater transparency and accountability in medical practices, he added.