An Appeal to Doctors / Dentists / Pharmacists

Dear Doctors / Dentists / Pharmacists,
At the outset we are thankful to you for having taken time to visit our website. Most unfortunately the medical profession has lost much of its earlier glory where Doctors / Dentists / Pharmacists were almost next to god. While agreeing that there are several reasons for this change but one needs to re-look as to what best can be done within the existing system.

As mentioned in our site we strongly believe that there are several persons in the medical profession who are unhappy and discontent with the existing unethical and irrational medical practices. But often they feel frustrated and miserable as they do not even have a platform to exchange their views.

We provide you the platform so as to share your passion for ethical and rational practice. In fact, there are several facets of unethical practices some of which include excessive and irrational medications, unnecessary procedures, unwanted surgeries and investigations being repeated often without scientific evidence. In addition there are kickbacks for referring.

All these at times are marked with substandard care leading to violation of patient’s human rights. Unfortunately this has often become part and parcel of the well-established most often dominant private health sector. The public health sector in our country needs great deal of attention and strengthening. India has a very low central government health budget and no doubt this has only further distorted health care.

All this and much more has been in the media very often including the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI). This has added to the heated debate in public domain further tarnishing the image of medical profession.

Two Courages Interventions

But even amidst this disarray and dismay there are few Doctors / Dentists / Pharmacists who have been brave enough to come out in the open and challenge the system. We would like to mention two recent incidences that have attracted much of media attention. One is a group of doctors who have courageously come forward to document by holding up a mirror to their own profession. There is rage in their statements.

The lead for this so called beginning of the cleansing has been conceived and initiated by Dr Arun Gadre with a team of his friends in and around Pune. Initially, he went around and contacted his friends’ circle and slowly expanded to several metropolitan cities as well, who shared a similar vision. Dr Gadre, himself a practicing gynaecologist in rural areas, was well aware of the exploitative system and decided to interview other doctors after preparing a simple questionnaire. Over a period of a decade, with continued persistence and perseverance, he compiled the confessions of 78 doctors from all over India.

The interviews by these practicing doctors and some leading consultants in the private sector shatter the myth that is created by members of the medical bodies that there may be few ‘black-sheep’ and that everything else is fine. On the contrary, the interviews bring out ugly facets of the deplorable decline in ethical standards due to a high degree of commercialisation. They point to a serious and ugly reality.

There is anger and frustration expressed by these doctors on many of the irrational and unethical practices that are rampant and abundant. A vast majority of these doctors often have a tough time as they continue to struggle every day to maintain a good distance from the jaws of unethical and commercial practices.

Most testimonies bring out the various facets of the unprincipled practices. But the one by Dr Vijay Ajgaonkar, a senior practicing diabetologist from Mumbai who has given extensive evidences says,

“Huge corporate hospitals put pressure on all doctors linked to the hospital, and on their full-time employees. They demand that they must send a certain quantum of business to the labs and the radiologists. There is no doubt that this practice has become commonplace. Unnecessary investigations are then forced upon the patients. The unfortunate patients are often trapped. They keep running from one big hospital to another”

Dr Shyam Kagal, a physician in Pune says,

“I know a gastroenterologist who performs numerous endoscopies on the same patient, when one is sufficient”.

Dr Sanjay Nagral, a surgeon from Mumbai recounts painfully that

“the criteria of doctors’ success have changed. Now, the successful doctor is one who has a big car and earns a lot of money! Due to this, everything is now dictated by the logic of money. The very structure of private medical practice has become such that there is no place left for ethics”.

Evidences one after the other by these various doctors from divergent specialities bring forth the anguish and pain as they keep the struggle on. The news of these statements seem to be spreading slowly as evidenced by the coverage this issue got in the prestigious British Medical Journal of March 2, 2015. Reacting to these testimonies Dr Samiran Nundy, a gastrointestinal surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, mentioned to the BMJ that

“I’m optimistic that this campaign will expand – such a movement gains credibility when it is driven by doctors”. He further added that “the silent minority must try and do something about it.”

The second intervention that is worth mentioning and emulating is that by the top cardiologists of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have decided to start an initiative called the Society for Less Investigative Medicine (SLIM) — a movement that aims to take on the growing menace of excessive medical investigations, starting with cardiology.

Please see news item for more details

But the picture is definitely not rosy as the forces acting against these doctors are much stronger and have powerful lobbies including the huge corporate hospitals. There is an intense and genuine fear that such ethical professionals may soon become endangered species.

We all need to stretch out and express solidarity to all these initiatives however small they may be. Remember that it is only such small initiatives that have always brought in changes.

Kindly sign the form to display in your clinic and send a copy to DAF-K, 57, Tejaswinagar,Dharwad 580002.
Download NFL Pledge Word Document

KINDLY NOTE

  1. Professionals to display this letter in their clinic so that patients learn about the professional commitment.
  2. Professionals who pledge will have their name in the NFL-I search machine enabled, this help patients to seek medical guidance.