An open letter to all Doctors from an anonymous patient

An open letter to all Doctors from an anonymous patient

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An open letter by a patient to his/her doctor on National #DoctorsDay. Read it here. http://bit.ly/1RS3rkt

Read a patients open letter to their doctor on problems gripping the Indian #medical system. #DoctorsDay #health http://bit.ly/1RS3rkt

It is National Doctors Day today! In the context of growing commercialisation of medical profession, a group of doctors have taken an initiative to encourage and influence other doctors to follow ethical practice. 

India celebrates Doctors’ Day every year on July 1, in memory of Bidhan Chandra Roy (July 1, 1882-July 1, 1962), a well respected physician who was also the second chief minister of West Bengal.

We appeal to you to use the following letter to reach out to your doctors to appreciate them for their integrity and commitment to professional ethics and join the initiative.

The letter congratulates the doctor for following all the ethics – as mentioned by the Medical Council of India – to the book. 

It also highlights the various problems with the Indian Medical system.

Read the full letter below. 

Dear Doctor,

Happy Doctor’s Day! 

Yes, it is my turn to write something for you. I would like to start by extending my gratitude to you. As in all spheres of life, private healthcare is now in the clutches of commercial interests and I am relieved to know a doctor like you who keeps the patient’s interests as a top priority rather than financial gains. 

I understand that as per Medical Council of India's code of ethics, doctors are supposed to explain to each patient about their diagnosis, medications, procedures and surgeries. They are also supposed to display the rates of their services and provide copy of all medical records to patients within 72 hours of demand. Unfortunately however, today few doctors do that. 

I am glad that you provide all the information and choices available at that time for my treatment and help me decide, without forcing your decision on me. If I am unsure, you cooperate in seeking a second opinion. 

I also gather that doctors are supposed to prescribe medicines by generic name, which are of same quality but cost much less than expensive brands. Dear doctor, whenever you prescribe generic medicines, as advised by the code of conduct of Medical Council of India, I would trust in your prescription. 

There is a rumour among patients that, many doctors are routinely sponsored, in exchange of prescribing costly branded medicines, by pharmaceutical companies for visits abroad and what not! I feel rather awkward to let you know that I hear many of my friends alleging openly that their doctors are referring them to a particular hospital/ laboratory/ imaging centre, while pocketing a hefty commission which is then extracted from the patient. 

Some hospitals even pressurize patients to buy all medicines only from the hospital medical store. I always defend you among my friends and proudly declare that my doctor is a righteous person, who does not indulge in such practices. 

I am also aware that sometimes a doctor may not be comfortable with such unethical practices by a hospital management, which tends to put money above all other considerations. I would like to appeal to you, that such ethical doctors and patients need to come together and persuade hospitals to discontinue such practices. 

I am aware that treating patients is a very complex and uncertain endeavour. I will always remember that sometimes even the best of doctors do not have a clue about what is happening to the patient. I know that doctors are not Gods, but are knowledgeable, empathetic warriors against human suffering. 

So doctor, I am sure you would agree with me that all the above ethical principles should be followed by doctors, while patients should feel comfortable in asking for these principles to be followed as a matter of basic rights. 

So, would you please put this letter on your notice board, or outside your clinic? I want all who visit you to know about your integrity and commitment to professional ethics, while encouraging them to look for such standards among all doctors and patients. 

With warm regards,

Your humble patient

 

 

(Initiative by ‘National network of doctors for de-commercialized, rational and ethical healthcare’, promoted by – Oxfam India)

Doctors and ordinary citizens interested in further information can contact: 

Dr Arun Gadre, MD drarun.gadre@gmail.com

Dr Sanjay Nagral, MS sanjaynagral@gmail.com

Photo credit: Srikant Kolari

 

 

 


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