A hoarding that says, ‘Honest Opinion. No Commission to Doctors’ by renowned cardiovascular thoracic surgeon and Padma Bhushan Dr Ramakanta Panda’s hospital at strategic locations across the city has once again stirred up the controversy of cut practice in Indian healthcare. A spokesperson of Asian Heart Institute said the reason behind putting up the hoardings is to reiterate that the hospital stands vehemently against cut practice.
“We are being flooded with congratulatory calls from many doctors and hospitals after we put up the hoardings and for taking this strong stand against cut practice. The practice of giving commission to ‘get patients’ by doctors and hospitals in India has been cited in various international medical journals. In fact, Dr Bawaskar’s article in the ‘Lancet’ and Dr Samiran Nundys article in the ‘BMJ’ created a stir across the country. They address larger issues in Indian healthcare system,” said the spokesperson.
Dr Himmatrao Bawaskar, the Mahad-based doctor who filed a complaint against a private diagnostic laboratory on cut practice with the Maharashtra Medical Council, told My Medical Mantra, “Dr Panda’s hospital has done this too late. I have been fighting against this menace for past five to six years.”
The practice of cut practice or referral fee also finds mention in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics by a professor of cardiology.
Dr Bawaskar, who is known for his research on snake and scorpion venom, said the ‘commission business’ in healthcare will not end unless doctors maintain high standards of morality and ethics. “If one doctor stops taking commission, the fraternity will throw him out from the circle. The cut-throat competition in private hospitals is responsible for this. To meet the targets, doctors are forced to engage in such activities,” he said, adding that the ‘commission business’ cannot be curtailed by any agency, and ‘everyone should improve themselves and be moral towards their service’.
The Indian Medical Association, the umbrella body of allopathy doctors, has meanwhile requested the hospital management to pull down the hoardings.
Dr Jayesh Lele, secretary, IMA’s hospital board of India, said the hospital should have acted responsibly. “The leading hospital should not have resorted to taking up a sensitive topic like this in the open. It hampers the image of the doctor.” Dr Lele added the IMA will write to AHI if the hoardings are not pulled down.