KPME Bill: govt, doctors must talk

KPME Bill: govt, doctors must talk

The Indian Medical Association's decision to protest proposed amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2007, by calling for a shut-down of out-patient departments of private hospitals in Karnataka  recently was an irresponsible one. Thousands of patients had to return home without treatment, thanks to the OPD shut-down across the state. Not only did this cause patients immense hardship, there were even incidents of patients dying. A man in Ballari, who suffered a heart attack, was rushed to a private hospital but since its OPD was closed he had to be moved to a government hospital. Denied timely treatment, he died en route.  It is unfortunate that the IMA and some 45,000 private hospitals chose to protest in a way that harmed the health and well-being of patients, the very people they are supposed to be protecting by providing medical treatment.   Surely, they could have found a less damaging and more imaginative way to publicise their grievances.

Those grievances arise from the fear that under the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the state government will have more power to regulate doctors' fees and cost of treatments at private hospitals.  This is welcome. That private hospitals fleece patients, forcing many into debt, is well-known. Government intervention in this matter was long overdue and is a step in the right direction. The proposed legislation also aims at making doctors more accountable; it calls for punishment in the event of the doctor making mistakes. Doctors have opposed this, arguing that mistakes made in the course of treatment are not deliberate. They have also pointed out that legal action against erring doctors will end up wasting the latter's time as they will have to attend court hearings. These are flimsy excuses. However, private doctors and hospitals are right in pointing out that the proposed legislation should cover government hospitals as well. The Justice Sen panel which wrote up the reforms for medical establishments in the state had recommended inclusion of government hospitals and doctors.  

The government is not providing quality healthcare to people, and cannot on its own meet the demand for it. It is hypocritical that it expects private hospitals and doctors to pull up their socks while its own hospitals languish.  At a time when there is a shortage of quality healthcare, the private sector is playing a vital role. It is the government's duty to protect the interests of the public at large, but it cannot do so without addressing the concerns of the private hospitals and doctors, too.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry