‘As per service rule, the doctor cannot go beyond 15Kms radius of the jurisdiction, without prior permission of seniors’
Incidents of illegitimate commissions and freebies being offered to the government doctors or hospitals by private healthcare service providers for referring patients have become a longstanding and prevalent norm in the healthcare system of Jammu and Kashmir.
The unbridled custom and lack of accountability among doctors has turned the situation from bad to worse for the poor patients, wherein it has been now seen that doctors in government hospitals not only refer patients to private hospitals, but also carry their treatment in private setup, probably for the easy money (colloquially known as cuts or kickbacks).
“It is not uncommon for patients being advised unnecessary treatment under a false sense of health security,” said a health expert, adding that there is often a close nexus among private hospitals and doctors, who indulge in such exercise in exchange for a certain commission to the referral physician.
He further stated that in the past as well it has been seen that some patients were referred to private hospitals by the government doctors, even though they could have been treated in the government hospital itself. Upon inspection, it has been time and again found that these doctors were working overtime in the same hospitals to which the patients were being referred.
A recent such case came into light, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, when a patient from Rajouri with lung complication approached Government Medical College and Hospital Rajouri. The patient required a simple surgery, for which Rajouri Medical College is sufficiently equipped, but the concerned doctor told him to come at the particular private hospital, probably with a dose of false sense of health security.
“Dr Birender who attended the patient is a surgeon at Rajouri hospital, while as Pawan Kumar of Ramgarh, who is an anesthetist, deliberately referred the patient to Maxx Lyfe Hospital Jammu for the operation,” said sources in the hospital, adding that this referral was done despite the fact that Rajouri Medical College and Hospital could have easily conducted such surgeries.
Not only they referred the patient to a private hospital, but at Maxx Lyfe both Dr Birendra and the anesthetist conducted the operation themselves, which could have otherwise been done at the Rajouri itself, without putting extra burden on the patient.
It would not be out of place to mention that while being a government official, Dr Birendra overrode the service rules and conducted the operation at Maxx Lyfe itself. “As per service rule, the doctor cannot go beyond 15Kms radius of the jurisdiction, without prior permission of seniors,” said sources.
The anesthetist Pawan Kumar, who is reportedly a diploma holder, has accompanied Dr Birendra at Maxx Lyfe to conduct the operation, which proves that the surgery was not critical one. It also vindicated that there is a deep rooted nexus between government doctors and private health service providers to make the patients fodders at both ends.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a complacent health service at all district levels with provision of all facilities, what drove Dr Birender and Pawan to refer the patient to Maxx Lyfe Hospital Jammu is indeed a grave issue, which needs to be reviewed.
When contacted, Kuldeep Singh, Principal Medical College and Hospital Rajouri termed the practice as illegal, as well as, out of service rules.
He said, “I will look into the matter and definitely initiate an inquiry to find out veracity of these allegations.”