India's private healthcare sector 'treats patients as revenue generators'

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 25 Februari 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A new article in the British Medical Journal highlights how India's private healthcare sector "treats patients as revenue generators".

The article is a compilation by gynaecologist Dr Arun Gadre after interviewing 78 doctors across India on ethical topics that dog the Indian medical map-ranging from irrational drug prescribing, kickbacks for referrals, and unnecessary investigations and surgical procedures.

The article included an example from a general practitioner in Maharashtra who said that doctors get Rs 30,000 to 40,000 for referring patients for angioplasty. A pathologist said that only three out of 150 doctors contacted were willing to refer patients for investigations without kickbacks. Another doctor said gynaecologists performed ultrasounds without indications in pregnant women who complained of trivial abdominal pain and fabricated false reports of cervical abnormalities and advised the women to have cervical stitches to prevent miscarriage''.

Dr Gadre's article also mentions the "sink test." The referring doctor advises a battery of laboratory tests despite no suspicion of pathology. Only a few of the tests are performed, and the extra blood collected is dumped in the sink. Fabricated results are then given in the normal range for all tests that were not performed. The patient pays a large sum, which is shared by the referring doctor and the pathologist,'' said the article.

Dr Gadre believes that these interviews indicate the alarming extent of the deterioration of rationality and ethics in India's private medical sector. He champions for the need for stringent, transparent, and mandatory regulation.

The interviews also threw up requests to restructure institutions such as the Medical Council of India, which is meant to perform as a watchdog of the medical profession and medical education. Paying money does not guarantee good healthcare,'' wrote Dr Gadre, adding, The private healthcare system largely treats patients as revenue generators, without rationality or medical logic.''

A solution would be to combine social insurance and a tax-based system for universal healthcare, he concluded. insurance,private healthcare sector,gynaecologist,British Medical Journal,Arun Gadre

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