Dr. VS Mehta: Aamir Khan has done a very good job. Everyone knows it that some doctors are engaged in such practices, which are against the ethics of medical profession. It is really very good that the actor has brought those malpractices in public notice. I agree with most of the issues that he raised. But we should find out why such things are happening. We should find out the root cause behind these malpractices. I salute Aamir Khan for the job he has done.
CJ: Satyamev Jayate showed that patients are advised to undergo surgery even when the disease is curable through medicines. Are doctors engaged in such unethical practice?
Dr. VS Mehta: See, I don't want to comment on this much because I think the show must have shown the other side of the story as well. Other side of the story means the views of the doctors in question. One more important thing that people should understand is that there is difference in the way a disease is treated depending upon the stage, it is in. However, in principle I agree that yes such practices exist. But I want to make it very clear that only few doctors are engaged in such bad practices, not all. So please don't think that every doctor is involved in malpractices. I will advise doctors that they should tell all the facts related with the treatment to the patients.
CJ: You said there is a need to find out the root cause behind the malpractices, which is tarnishing the image of the medical profession. In your view, what is the root cause?
Dr. VS Mehta: Today the medical profession has been turned into an industry. For this nobody but only the government policies have to be blamed. Government has gone for privatization and corporatisation of the healthcare sector without framing governing policies for them. See there is no control over the private hospitals, which is a must thing. Some sort of control should be there. Why is there difference in the rates of treatment of the same disease and various medical tests across the private hospitals located in the same area? The government should categorize hospitals and fix the cost of treatment in private sector.
CJ: As highlighted by the show, opening up of generic drug stores, which are cheaper than branded drugs that doctors normally prescribe, have been appreciated by one and all. What is your take on this?
Dr. VS Mehta: I will say the government should strictly control the cost of medicines. See what is necessary is availability of cheaper of drugs to the patients. The issue should not be generic or branded drugs. Whether the medicine is sold as a generic or in a branded form, the government should fix the cost of the drug on the basis of its chemical composition. But let me tell you one thing, the government itself doesn't want this to happen because of the revenue reasons as sale of branded drugs increases the income of the government through taxes. I would like to say one more thing that the government should control the sale of spurious drugs.
CJ: Why doctors don't prescribe generic drugs even after the guidelines of MCI, which tells them to do so?
Dr. VS Mehta: The doctors do not prescribe generic drugs for many reasons. Firstly, if a doctor prescribes a generic drug then where will you go to buy them as there are very few generic drug stores available. In that case a patient will again go to a normal chemist, who will give him the branded medicine again based on the chemical name that the doctor has written. Secondly, palatable drugs are in demand as a patient may find it difficult to swallow a generic drug because of its bitter taste. Branded drugs come with added flavor but the generic drugs do not have any flavor in them.
CJ: Is the quality of generic drugs inferior than branded ones?
Dr. VS Mehta: No, there is no difference in the quality of generic and branded drugs. Quality wise both are same.
CJ: There is one more accusation that doctors prefer to prescribe medicines only of those companies, which pay them commission. Is it a reality?
Dr. VS Mehta: Not all, but yes many doctors do it. Most of the doctors do not follow the oath that they will serve people. They don't follow it because they have to follow instructions from their business-minded hospital owners. The healthcare should be not considered as an industry.
CJ: Do you agree that there is a nexus between doctors and drug companies because of which patients are suffering?
Dr. VS Mehta: Yes, there is a nexus as everything has become part of an industry. Drug companies sponsor the cost of travel and accommodation of doctors many a times. The solution is strict government control on both the sides. There should be a common controlling body for all i.e. hospitals, doctors and pharma companies.
CJ: What do you have to say on the quality of medical colleges across India and doctors that are coming out of these colleges?
Dr. VS Mehta: Quality of medical colleges is deteriorating. The clinical sense or the clinical acumen of new generation doctors is going down. More doctors are going for investigation and treating the investigations. Investigations sometimes may be reliable and sometimes may not be. The investigation should be only supportive, it should not become the criteria of treatment. There is one more thing with the new doctors. They do not want to face any charges or complaints from patients and their kins and this has made them overcautious. This over cautiousness has become prime reason that they sometimes overtreat a patient.
CJ: Girl foeticide is one more issue where medical practitioners play a major role. What could be the best way to discourage doctors from this inhuman practice?
Dr. VS Mehta: On girl foeticide and the role of medical professionals in it, I will only say that those who are doing wrong should be given harsh punishment.
CJ: Is Medical Council of India competent enough to tackle malpractices in healthcare or should they be given more teeth to fight corruption in the system - right from education in medicine to diagnostic labs?
Dr. VS Mehta: MCI needs more teeth as well as more manpower. Health is a state subject. This also pose problems to formulate laws that are applicable across the states. Efforts should be made to ensure that MCI remains corruption free.
CJ: Various doctors' associations like IMA etc. demanded apology from Aamir Khan saying that he defamed medical profession. What is your take on this demand?
Dr. VS Mehta: Aamir Khan does not need to apologize to anybody. He has done a great job. We all are only saying him that not all the doctors are bad.
CJ: Being a senior medical practitioner any message that you would like to give to the doctors across India?
Dr. VS Mehta: I would like to say, especially to the young generation to be honest to the medical profession. Don't be misguided by greed. Money is important but not everything. Money should be earned with honesty. Keep the medical profession as a noble profession in the eyes of people.
(Dr. VS Mehta currently practices at Paras Hospital in Gurgaon).
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