Why do people go for doctor bashing or hospital vandalism? People have been witness to doctors’ lack of accountability, their inhuman faces and malpractices and private hospitals’ mindless profiteering and utter neglect for years. Irrational drug prescribing, kickbacks for referrals, needless investigations and surgical procedures are widespread in private hospitals. Things have come to such a pass that people have lost trust in the entire healthcare system.
Doctors must think why incidence of doctor bashing or hospital vandalism is unimaginable in the developed countries like the US and UK. It’s because people in the US or UK have trust in their medical regulatory system as medical councils in the West have held many doctors guilty for medical negligence and taken stringent action by canceling their medical registration.
In contrast, Medical Council of India and state medical councils in India are steeped in corruption and always try to shield their errant colleagues without caring for the lives of the defenseless patients.
Well, any form of physical violence against doctors and hospitals are not acceptable. The government must provide adequate protection against physical attacks against any citizen and members of all profession, including doctors. The Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) already have several legal provisions for criminal prosecution against physical violence and destruction of property.
In addition, civil laws also provide added protection against any loss due to physical destruction of life and property. What is the justification to make new laws only for the protection of doctors?
Under Section 304A of CrPC, when a doctor is found guilty for causing death of a patient due to gross medical negligence, the maximum punishment is imprisonment for up to two years. Ironically, no doctor has ever been sentenced to jail for two years in Indian medical history.
Last week, defying the blazing sun hundreds of doctors brought out a procession in protest against the state’s new Clinical Establishment Act, 2017. The Act which was aimed at reining in private hospitals, they said, would instil fear in doctors and come in the way of treatment.
A city-based well known oncologist said that act would lead to a breakdown of doctor-patient trust and turn doctors and clinical establishments into ‘soft targets’.
Why are they worried now? If you are committed physicians and do your job with unimpeachable honesty and utmost sincerity, there should not be any reason for getting ‘worried’?
Have members of the West Bengal’s Doctors’ Forum, who organised the protest march, ever come out with a statement denouncing the private hospitals’ inflated billing and malpractices? Or expressed empathy with the patients’ family members who lost their loved ones?
It’s ridiculous when a so-called eminent cardiologist, who is often seen at the Calcutta Club moderating debates, at a recent programme near bypass urged the government to invest more in healthcare. He said in the absence of government expenditure, the investment will have to come from corporate sector. And when the corporate sector invests, he said, it will obviously seek profit. He also questioned why we look at that so critically.
What a shameful logic!
Now, which is more important—sheer plea of logic or moral-ethical scruples?
Many people put forward arguments in favour of slavery system, when President Abraham Lincoln was determined to abolish the system in the southern states of America in 1863. Even some Black leaders told him not to go ahead with his decision. For Lincoln, logical justifiability is meaningless when there is a question of morality.
To most doctors today, ethics or morality hardly matters. For them, money is god. Overpowered by greed, they charge astronomical fees even from the poor or common men and drive expensive cars. They are rapacious and ruthless. They wouldn’t compromise with their lavish lifestyle. They are often seen with so-called ‘celebrities’ at different ‘clubs’ where socialites gather.
Medical profession used to be considered a noble profession and doctors had always been compared and equated next to God. A doctor should have qualities like compassion, caring, and ability to understand patients’ emotions. His sewa or service should be selfless.
Where have all those gone?
(To be continued)