Last month, two private hospitals came under fire for negligence and overbilling patients. These incidents created a great furore among the medical fraternity and general public. Now to make amends, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the largest voluntary organisation of Doctors of Modern Scientific Medicine today announced certain self-regulation procedures for hospitals and doctors.
A press release put out by the IMA stated, ‘Trust is the foundation of a doctor and patient relationship. The medical profession is undergoing certain changes’.
It further noted, while violence against doctors is on the rise and they are being held accountable, at times for deeds not committed. It is also true that introspection is needed on the part of doctors and hospitals failing which trust may take a long time to be re-established.
The press release mentioned that the private sector is presently catering to 80 per cent of the patients with the highest quality of service. It stated that with the absence of state subsidy, the quality care provided by the private sector will invariably come at a cost. This cost is a mere fraction as compared to the rates in advanced countries.
Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Dr RN Tandon, Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “We represent the collective consciousness of the largest medical association of modern doctors of the country, the IMA. A profession, which has been considered as second to none, is, today, being looked at with suspicion. However, the medical profession is the noblest profession. It is disheartening to see the erosion in trust and we want to make it more transparent.”
They added, “The IMA is and will continue to work towards improving doctor-patient relationship. IMA is committed to practicing with humility and pledges to reform the existing system. We will also take the opportunity to say here that the doctor to patient ratio in India is skewed due to which doctors are under a lot of stress. Doctors are also human beings and not healing angels. Once treatment is administered, the recuperation of a patient depends upon physical and organic factors. It is unacceptable and absurd to victimise the medical practitioner if the patient does not respond to treatment.”
The IMA stated saying, all doctors shall practice with compassion and follow the IMA ALERT policy (Acknowledge, Listen in detail, Explain, Review and Thank you). It has also announced formation of an IMA Medical Redressal Commission at the state level (in each state) to engage in social, financial, and quality audits of health care (Suo moto or on demand).
Officials from the IMA mentioned that the commission will have a public man, an IMA office bearer, one former state medical council representative, and two subject experts. The commission shall consider every grievance in a time bound manner.
The press release by the IMA assured that an appeal to the state commission will be heard by the ‘Headquarters IMA Medical Redressal Commission’ which will have the powers to take suo moto cases also. The headquarters shall also suggest reforms in healthcare on periodic basis.
Dr Aggarwal, said, “What happened was unfortunate. However, not all doctors are wrong, and the public must have faith in them. Such errors happen by accident and not intentionally. Having said this, it is also time for the medical profession to introspect and come out with self-regulation procedures. We are often blamed for prescribing costly drugs. From today onwards, all doctors in the country shall choose affordable drugs. We also appeal to the government to come out with an urgent ordinance for one drug-one company-one price policy. Doctors should actively participate in ensuring that no hospital sells any item priced higher than the MRP. No service charges should be added to procure drugs from outside. MRP shall not be dictated by the purchaser.”
“All the above will should be implemented with immediate effect”, said Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, National President Elect IMA, in his message.
The other points announced by IMA are as follows.
- IMA recommends that all doctors should prescribe preferably National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) drugs
- All doctors shall promote Janaushidhi Kendras
- We appeal to the government to classify all disposables under both NLEM and non-NLEM categories and cap the price of essential ones. Till then, all medical establishments should sell the disposables at procurement prize after adding a predefined fixed margin.
- Hospitals and doctors are often blamed of overcharging and over investigations. Billing should be transparent, and all special investigations should be well informed
- Every doctor should ensure that it becomes mandatory on the part of the hospital administrator to give options at the time of admission to choose cost-effective treatment room and treatment (single room, sharing room, and general-ward) and explain the difference in total bill estimates
- All doctors should ensure that hospital estimates at the time of admission are near to actual figures.
- The treating doctor must explain the chances of death and unexpected complications and resultant financial implications.
- Once doctors take charge of a patient, the patient should not be neglected. They should look after the patient till discharge
- Emergency care is the responsibility of the state government and the government should subsidize the costs of all emergencies in private sector.
- Every medical prescription must include counselling on the cost of drugs and investigations.
- IMA has zero tolerance to doctors indulging in female feticide.
- IMA has zero tolerance to cuts and commissions. Medical establishment should revisit their referral fee system. Billing paid to doctors should be transparent and reflected in the bill.
- No hospital can force their consultants to work on targets. Contractual agreements should be in such way in which interested of both parties that is consultant and the hospital is equally protected. All hospitals should consider not charging service charges from the consultants.
- Choice of drugs and devices rests with the doctors based on the affordability of the patient and not on the profitability.
- All hospitals must comply to the commitment towards EWS, BPL, and poor patients without any discrimination.
- All patient complaints should be addressed in a timely manner through an internal redressal mechanism with a chairman from outside the hospital.
- All medical establishments must ensure that their business ethics comply with the MCI ETHICS.
- IMA LAMA policy: being a grey area is being made.
- Every dead body needs to be treated with respect and dignity.
- All charitable hospitals should do their free work as assigned.
- All needy patients must be routed through the social worker of the establishment and guided and directed to the appropriate place.
- At least one more equally experienced but unrelated surgeon should be involved in the consent form during elective LSCS.
- The patient has a right to get medical records within 72 hoursof request. Acknowledge their request.
- The patient has the right to go for a second opinion from an appropriately qualified medical doctor. The primary doctors have no right to get offended.
- A hospital has no right to stop life-saving investigations or treatment for non-payment of bills if the patient is still admitted in the hospital. The government should make a mechanism for the reimbursement for the above for poor patients.
- Ensure for us all are equal. BPL, APL, EWS, rich, or poor all should get the same attention and treatment
- IMA policy: With no National Guidelines viability of foetus issue is being looked upon by IMA, FOGSI, IAP and NNF.
- We are not against any regulations and accountability, but we should all ask for a single window accountability at the state level. The state medical council should be proactive and take timely decisions. We should also ensure a single window registration.
- We must ensure that our establishment has a transgender policy.
- All government hospitals should be upgraded and have facilities like those in the private hospitals. All public, private or charitable hospitals should have quality accreditation.
- No doctors should issue false certificates.