The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Healing skills & bitter pills

DR SUBIR GANGULY, president of the Bengal branch of Indian Medical Association, met readers of The Telegraph at the IMA Hall, on Biresh Guha Street, near the Park Circus Bridge no. 4, to answer their queries. Participants included Deepak Sarkar, Kajal Bose, Sandipan Biswas, Kalyan Roy, Shyamal De, Amit Sarkar, Biswajit Sarkar, Diptimoy Ghosh and Amitava Bhattacharya

Deepak Sarkar: A fissure has developed in patient–doctor relationships. In most cases, the patient expects more cordiality from the doctor. How can this gap be bridged'

The entire treatment system can be divided into three parts — the government, private arrangements and the individual. In a government hospital, a doctor has to attend to nearly 400 to 500 patients daily. So, it is very difficult for him to maintain cordiality towards his patients all through.

Doctors may be more cordial in private nursing homes, because these are run to earn profits. There is no human element at work there.

Doctors in private practice, in most cases, lose control of their healing skills. They prescribe an antibiotic or an injection that may not be necessary.

So, ultimately, patients lose faith in doctors because of a section’s inhumane and unethical dealings. Actually, these doctors forget that health is a people’s right. So, people’s problems must be taken into account first.

Of course, it should be understood that doctors do not control the price of medicines. In this regard, the IMA has a vital role to play.

Kalyan Roy: Patients expect more accountability from the doctors. As a result, some times, doctors are heckled and hospital property is damaged. Who is responsible for this and how can the situation be improved'

It is true that in some cases, accountability is waning fast and for this, the doctors themselves are to blame. Some doctors indulge in cheating their patients or busy themselves in working for a commission.

Some other factors are also responsible. In today’s society, technology has developed so rapidly that the expectations of the people know no bounds. So, when they compare the mode of treatment in a foreign country with the system here, they get angry. But that is not something you can hold against a doctor.

Even after 55 years of independence, our health infrastructure has not improved. Take, for example, the recent incident at B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children. What can a doctor do under the circumstances' You have to take into account the condition the children were being brought in and where they would return after recovery. When the children were brought to the hospital, they were suffering from acute diarrohea. On their return home, they were drinking the same dirty water from the canal. So, in such a situation, how can you blame the doctors'

You can hold a doctor responsible for maltreatment but it should be remembered that he, too, has a version of the events.

Kajal Bose: Some time ago, there was an allegation that ‘below-poverty-line (BPL) certificates’ were being issued indiscriminately for free treatment in hospitals. How can this menace be checked'

In such situations, we suggest that the government issue coloured cards to people of the BPL group to do away with the practice of elected representatives issuing the certificates. We understand the government has decided to follow our suggestion.

Sandipan Biswas: Unlike Delhi,Central government employees in Calcutta can avail of treatment in dispensaries run under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS). But there are allegations that the workers in Delhi get better quality medicines than here. Can this anomaly be checked'

Doctors at the CGHS centres do their best to treat patients. But they have no cotnrol over the supply of medicines. However, we shall ask the Central ministry concerned to look into the allegation.

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