The potential penalty by India’s fair trade regulator could be steep. The CCI (The Competition Commission of India) investigation is the first such action against exorbitant prices of medicines and services fixed by hospitals, which have operated free of regulation so far.
A four-year investigation by India’s fair-trade regulator has concluded that some of India’s largest hospital chains abused their dominance through exorbitant pricing of medical services and products in contravention of competition laws.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) will soon meet to weigh in on the responses by Apollo Hospitals, Max Healthcare, Fortis Healthcare, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Batra Hospital & Medical Research and St. Stephen’s Hospital. It will then decide whether to impose penalties, said people familiar with the matter.
The CCI can impose a penalty of up to 10 percent of the average turnover for the past three preceding financial years of an enterprise that has violated competition laws. The penalties could be steep. Apollo Hospitals posted an average turnover of Rs 12,206 crore and Fortis Rs 4,834 crore in the past three financial years.
The CCI’s director-general found that 12 super-speciality hospitals of these chains that operate in the National Capital Region abused their positions of dominance by charging “unfair and excessive prices” for renting rooms, medicines, medical tests, medical devices, and consumables, according to a copy of the summary report that Moneycontrol reviewed.
Some hospital room rents exceeded those charged by 3-star and 4-star hotels, according to the findings by the DG, who examines anti-competitive practices.
Significance of the investigation
The CCI investigation is the first such action against exorbitant prices of medicines and services fixed by hospitals, which have operated unencumbered by regulation so far. The watchdog’s action could potentially rein in the prices of medicines and healthcare equipment, or at the very least, bring transparency in the way hospitals sell these items, according to competition lawyers.
Of the 12 hospitals that faced CCI scrutiny, six belonged to Max and two to Fortis.
The CCI and the hospital chains had no comment for this article.
Overcharging without checks
Exorbitant pricing is a common thread running through the CCI investigation report. The hospitals were found to charge more for certain medical tests as well as for X-rays, MRI and ultrasound scans than rates offered by other diagnostic centres. For consumables such as syringes and surgical blades, hospitals charged rates that were higher than those of other consumable makers, according to the CCI report.
The only exception was medicines, which hospitals sold at the maximum retail price, although they earned significant profits by procuring them at lower prices.
The CCI selected the hospitals for investigation on the basis of the number of doctors, paramedics, beds, and turnover for the period 2015-2018. The investigation found that these hospitals do not allow the use of purchase of consumables, medical devices, medicines and medical test results from outside, adding that patients use the service of in-house pharmacy and laboratories for ease of convenience.
Investigative reports pertaining to each of the hospital chains were submitted by the DG to the CCI on December 24, 2021. The CCI forwarded a copy of these reports to the hospitals on July 12, 2022, and sought their responses, according to the people, who did not want to be identified.
The CCI has been examining the pharmaceutical sector in India for years, scrutinising the pricing of medicines by healthcare companies. On April 19, 2020, it cautioned businesses, including healthcare companies, against taking advantage of Covid-19 to contravene competition laws.
Commercial sale of mother’s milk under Ayush licence has thrown up ethical questions. You can buy literally anything these days, even human breast milk. India is home to the only company in Asia that sells mother’s milk for profit, Bengaluru-based Neolacta Lifesciences Pvt Ltd. After activists objected to the commercialization of mother’s milk, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) cancelled the company’s licence stating that sale of mother’s milk was not permitted under its regulations. However, an FSSAI inspection revealed that the company continues to sell mother’s milk by obtaining an Ayush licence in November 2021 for its product dubbed ‘Naariksheera’ (breast milk). Neolacta, which was established in 2016, had originally obtained a licence from the Karnataka office of the FSSAI in the category of dairy products. “It is absolutely shocking that a company is being allowed to collect breast milk from young mothers and sell it like a dairy product with a huge price tag claiming to have added value to it,” said Nupur Bidla of the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), which had alerted the government to this in 2020.
Saurabh Aggarwal, MD of Neolacta, told TOI that the company has significant experience in the human milk space supplying technology to set up the first milk bank in Australia. He said that NeoLacta had, over the past five years, “benefited over 51,000 plus premature babies across 450 hospitals.” Donated breast milk is mainly used to feed premature or sick babies when mothers are unable to nurse them for a variety of reasons. Usually, the milk is sourced through milk banks set up as non-profits. Milk collected from donors (healthy lactating mothers) is pasteurised, analysed for nutrient content and checked for contamination of any kind and is then frozen and stored. In most milk banks, especially those attached to government hospitals, the donated milk is given free of cost. However, in many others it might be free for a few poor patients but those who can afford it are usually charged a few hundred rupees for 50 ml of donated breast milk. There are over 80 non-profit human milk banks in India. Neolacta charges Rs 4,500 for 300 ml of frozen breast milk. A pre-term baby could require about 30 ml per day while a baby on full feed could need as much as 150 ml per day. It also sells human milk-derived powder that is readily available on ecommerce sites as well as its own. President of the National Neonatology Forum (NNF).
Dr Siddarth Ramji told TOI that “as a principle we do not support commercialisation of breast milk” but pointed out that NNF was not a regulatory body. Dr Satish Tiwari, national convenor of the Human Milk Banking Association of India, described it as a shame. “Does the company pay the mothers who are donors? Do they take it free and sell it at such a high cost? No one knows. The government should look into this.” In a research article published in December 2020 titled, ‘Nurture commodified? An investigation into commercial human milk supply chains’, social scientist Dr Michal Nahman and economist Prof Susan Newman from the UK examined the way Neolacta functioned. Speaking to TOI, Prof Newman said their research consultants had found evidence that women, mainly in rural areas, were actively being pursued by NGOs and associated ‘health workers’ and paid either with cash or with food packets. She pointed out that in the initial news reports on Neolacta, they freely admitted to collecting milk from women across four states but have since become more cagey about how they source the milk. The article adding that in 2016, an attempt by NeoLacta to collect breast milk from the largest government hospital for women and children in Bengaluru, Vani Vilas, was abandoned after serious concerns over the “commercial exploitation of breast milk”. “It was evident from our interviews with NeoLacta donors, intermediaries such as NGOs and community health workers and NeoLacta employees, donor milk is not framed as a commodity in spite of the marketisation of NeoLacta product. Rather, the way in which donor milk is operationalised as a ‘gift’ (or ‘daan’ in the Indian context) is built in to how it is commodified,” stated the article. Remuneration would depend upon the volume that women provide and 80% of the revenue would be paid to the mother with the NGO worker taking a 20% cut, it added.
At the time of going to press, the Ayush ministry had not responded to this reporter’s queries. BPNI wrote to the health ministry in February 2020 that “Neolacta has been involved in commercializing human milk” even though the guiding principles for using donor human milk in India in the health ministry’s ‘National Guidelines on Lactation Management Centers in Public Health Facilities’ clearly states, “DHM (donated human milk) cannot be used for any commercial purpose”. With the ministry not responding, BPNI wrote to FSSAI asking how the licence was issued. Neolacta was established in 2016, a year after Cambodia banned selling of breastmilk after a public outcry about an American for-profit company Ambrosia sourcing breast milk from poor women in Cambodia and selling it in the US. A letter from the Cambodian government was quoted as stating: “Although Cambodia is poor and (life is) difficult, it is not at the level that it will sell breast milk from mothers.” In the context of Cambodia, UNICEF had said in a statement that the trade in breastmilk was “exploiting vulnerable and poor women for profit and commercial purposes”. Most countries do not allow the commercial sale of breastmilk.
Dr Arun Gupta of BPNI alleges that Neolacta aggressively markets its products on social media. “It is using the tactics of the infant formula industry in the way it is targeting healthcare providers to gain legitimacy. Infant formula companies harp on mothers not having enough milk and Neolacta goes on about mothers producing ‘excess breastmilk’ which they can donate. It claims that its products do not come under the IMS Act, which regulates the marketing of infant milk substitutes, but it does,” said. BPNI complained to the National Neonatology Forum (NNF) in February 2021. The NNF responded in April 2021 to state that the NNF had already taken a decision in its executive board meeting to abstain from providing any form of encouragement to Neolacta Lifesciences and that a letter communicating this decision had been sent to all the members of the forum. Officials from the Bengaluru branch of FSSAI inspected the Neolacta unit on April 22 and found stocks of packing materials bearing the suspended FSSAI License, which they seized. The local FSSAI office has also asked the company to recall from the market all its products which have used the FSSAI licence and to disable online selling of such products. The company was also issued a notice for carrying out food business without a valid FSSAI license. A commercial company selling breast milk would court healthcare providers including doctors and hospitals to become their suppliers, which would increase the cost to the healthcare system and create ethical dilemmas, warned public health researcher Sarah Steele of the University of Cambridge in a piece she wrote about commercial human milk banks in October 2021. She added that if mothers moved from donating to non-profit milk banks to such companies, healthcare providers would be forced to enter into contracts with such companies and this could result in the privatization of a previously public service. Dr Sushma Nangia, professor and head of the neonatology department in Lady Hardinge Medical college who established a human milk bank, explained that donated breast milk might be better than infant formula but was inferior to mother’s own milk. “Even for pre-term babies their own mother’s milk is best for them to thrive. Donated human milk is inferior to mother’s milk as milk from different sources is pooled and vital nutrients are lost when it is pasteurized. Obviously, there are cases where donated breast milk is needed and that is why we started a bank but we do not prescribe it for all pre-term or sick babies. Neonatologists and the increase in the business of neonatal ICUs in the private sector are behind the push for donated breastmilk. It has become a lucrative business. This menace (push for commercial donor milk) can be curbed if neonatologists invest time and resources in ensuring mother’s own milk for her baby rather than going for commercial donor milk and also providing unambiguous information to families that donor milk is not the same as their own mother’s milk. The government needs to step in and enquire where the milk is being sourced from,” said Dr Nangia.
CBI has arrested Joint Drugs Controller for allegedly taking a ₹4 lakh bribe to clear injections made by Biocon Biologics .The CBI has arrested Joint Drugs Controller S Eswara Reddy for allegedly receiving a Rs 4 lakh bribe from a conduit to waive the Phase 3 clinical trial of the ‘Insulin Aspart’ injection, an under development Biocon Biologics product to manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, officials said on Tuesday.
The incident may be just a tip of the iceberg, to indicate collusion between administrators and various industries. It is the time to regulate all important components of health industry including health administrators as doctors are regulated – to achieve real cost effective health care.
In last few decades, as doctor-patient relationship has been getting more complex and medical industry has controlled the financial interaction, the medical costs have become expensive. Hence the health insurance industry is gradually becoming indispensable. As doctors are at the front and remain the visible component, they are blamed for the expensive medical treatments. The tremendous rise in health care expenses is usually borne by the government, taxpayer, insurance or patient himself. Therefore there has been an increasing dependence on investors in health care, along the lines of an industry to ensure its financial viability. 25 factors- why health care is expensive
Complex interplay of various industries like pharmaceutical, consumable industry and other businesses associated with health care remain invisible to patients. Various important components for example pharma industry, suppliers, biomedical, equipment, consumables remain unregulated. There is large number of administrators involved in such processes. Although doctors are strictly regulated and kind of over-regulated but such administrators and financial controllers who play important part in medicine, cost, sale and purchase, remain largely unregulated. Because of such undeserved criticism, doctors have actually been alienated from financial aspect but still they are often perceived as culprits for cost escalation.
The CBI has arrested Joint Drugs Controller S Eswara Reddy for allegedly receiving a ₹4 lakh bribe to waive the phase three clinical trial of the Insulin Aspart injection, a product of Biocon Biologics under development to manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, officials said on Tuesday.
Biocon Biologics is a subsidiary of the Biocon. The company has denied allegations.The agency has also arrested director at Synergy Network India Private Limited, who was allegedly giving Reddy a bribe, they said.
After completing the necessary paperwork, the CBI has arrested Reddy and Dua, nabbed during a trap operation on Monday while the alleged bribe exchange was going on, the officials said.
The CBI has also booked Associate Vice President and Head-National Regulatory Affairs (NRA), Biocon Biologics Limited, Bangalore, L Praveen Kumar, as well as Director, Bioinnovat Research Services Private Limited, Delhi, Guljit Sethi in the case under IPC sections of criminal conspiracy and corruption.
India features a mixed-market health system where chronically low investment in public health systems has led to the proliferation of private care providers. In last few years, a bevy of apps and service aggregators have starting operating brazenly in the country, pushing aggressively for tests and surgeries and delivering drugs, often advertised by Superstars and Celebrities. Patient often zigzags between health providers with unclear referral pathways, and ends up receiving questionable quality of care that may typically neither be safe nor affordable.
Online health aggregators are nothing more than sophisticated commission agents. The medical business model thrives on advertisement and commission. Government rules prevent doctors from advertising or soliciting for surgeries, but these companies live on advertising. Any doctor or hospital can get advertised through these companies. In lieu of some money, anyone can be declared as the best and hence misguidance to the patients cannot be ruled out. The flow of patients to a health care facility can be enhanced by financing the advertisements and not by actual quality work and results in increasing medical business manifold. They do not contribute to much needed medical infrastructure and merely redirect patients to existing facilities. They may at the best be able to become facilitators of the process that attract patients by advertisements and result in skyrocketing cost to patients. Any of the Hospitals and doctors can be projected as the best, who tie up with these online aggregators in lieu of some money. Therefore the misguidance as well as increased costs is the two main drawbacks of such a lucrative arrangement of this new medical business. They charge hospitals and doctors for advertisements ( sending more patients) and patients for channelizing them. In the resulting Zig-Zag path, patients are treated more on the basis of advertisements that are many times aired by our ‘Filmy Superstars’.
The health service aggregators have no skin in the game. Neither do they invest in hospitals nor do they have the responsibility of running a hospital, but they want the money which a patient will spend on their health in a hospital. They have conveniently created online apps and are ranked top on search websites. This whole process is against the values and ethics, which healthcare delivery is supposed to be.
The damage caused by the unchecked presence of health service aggregators online is snowballing into a major healthcare crisis which the Union and state governments can ill afford to ignore. Instead of becoming a part of the solution, they have added to the problem by pushing aggressively for tests, surgeries and healthcare services without any medical requirement or prescription.
There are plenty of such apps which advertise about doctor consultations, quick surgeries and direct-to-consumer laboratory tests.
This is where the trouble begins.
In one case, the healthcare aggregator suggested surgery for constipation. The mention of surgery scared the patient, who then approached a hospital where they advised him to improve his diet.
For a kidney stone issue, a healthcare aggregator suggested a laser surgery to a patient without consulting a urologist. The laser surgery was done and the stones got stuck in his pelvi-uretery junction of the kidney-uretery track. He became aware of it two weeks later when he had severe pain in his flank, because of which he walked in to a hospital after the app refused to acknowledge his concerns.
In all of these cases, the apps charged almost double the existing rates for surgeries. For a piles operation, in a general ward, a hospital charges between Rs 50,000-70,000, inclusive of medicines in a patient without co-morbidities. The apps charged between 1.25 lakh to 1.5 lakh, while the national public health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat rates for such surgeries begin at Rs 10,000.
Ads are being run by online health service aggregators in newspapers and all kind of media.
For removal of kidney stones, hospitals charge Rs 50,000, while the apps charge upwards of Rs 1 lakh, while on the government’s Ayushman Bharat scheme, it is Rs 33,000.
Circumcision is priced at Rs 60,000 by the healthcare aggregators, when hospitals charge Rs 10,000 for a surgery such as this and it is Rs 3,000 for those availing it using Ayushman Bharat.
Their modus operandi? The healthcare aggregators have tie-ups with certain departments in certain hospitals, where after the app does the diagnosis, a doctor on their payroll is sent to the hospital to perform the surgery. After the surgery, the doctor walks away without any care and the patient is left at the hospital until he gains consciousness. At which point, if there is any immediate post-operative care, the nurse concerned does it based on the instructions of the doctor who left. Then the patient checks out.
A fee is paid by these healthcare aggregators to these hospitals for use of the premises for the surgery. In most cases, they approach smaller hospitals where either the top administration turns a blind eye towards these activities. Sometimes, the doctor who performed the surgery may not be on their rolls, but that from a healthcare aggregator.
“The health service aggregators have no skin in the game. Neither do they invest in hospitals nor do they have the responsibility of running a hospital, but they want the money which a patient will spend on their health in a hospital. They have conveniently created online apps and are ranked top on search websites. This whole process is against what healthcare delivery is supposed to be,” said Dr Jagadish Hiremath, CEO of ACE Suhas Hospital in Bengaluru.
Government rules prevent hospitals from advertising or soliciting for surgeries, pointed out Hiremath, but these companies live on advertising.
Such health care aggregators are feeding off hospitals and they need to be regulated. “If you remove the advertisements, these companies don’t exist. They have no physical presence except for a few labs or clinics,” he added.
“The problem is getting compounded by these discounts and offers for unnecessary medically and unwarranted testing in the name of wellness/immunity packages. It is a price war to offer maximum number of tests at lowest prices which is totally meaningless,” highlighted Malini Aisola, co-convenor of All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN)
These online health service aggregators have added to issue of illegal pathology laboratories mushrooming all over, pointed out Dr Jagadish Keskar of the Maharashtra Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists
Almost all of them have roped in big names as brand ambassadors – actor Hrithik Roshan, Amitabh Bachchan, singer Guru Randhawa, Rahul Dravid, actor Sonu Sood, actor Rajat Kapoor, Neha Dhupia, Yuvraj Singh and Randeep Hooda to talk about specific health issues and MS Dhoni.
“They have all these famous names as brand ambassadors as if they will perform the surgeries or look at your blood in a lab. This confuses the public, who are already bombarded with too much information,” quipped Hiremath.
Consumer Drug Advocacy group All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) argued that the direct-to-consumer advertising has to stop completely. “It is too dangerous in healthcare. Aggregators are inducing demand when people are at their most vulnerable due to the pandemic. They are pushing promotions and offers on tests and surgeries and healthcare services without medical assessment or prescription,” said Aisola.
There is a danger particularly with surgeries, contended Aisola, because this could lead to bypassing medical opinions and identifying alternative treatments. When doctors, hospitals and labs associate themselves with the aggregators, there are ethical issues too, she pointed out.
The practice of doctors associating themselves with these healthcare aggregators have alarmed several doctors’ associations. Association of Minimal Access Surgeons of India (AMASI) wrote to its members stating that any member who has made such a contract with healthcare aggregators should disengage immediately failing which a member found to be in contract thereafter may be liable for disciplinary action by regulatory authorities.
They warned that any litigation arising from such practices will not be defended by the association during legal process by way of expert opinion or otherwise.
“It jeopardizes adequate clinical judgment by a trained person regarding need for surgery and decision as to the type of surgery that would be optimum for the particular patient. The apps are made for the sole purpose of making money,” said the AMASI notification.
A triple burden of malnutrition – under-nutrition, micro-nutrient malnutrition, as well as overweight and obesity – is rising in India. Paradoxically, these forms of poor nutrition often have the same nutritional root cause. More nourishing freshly cooked home-foods or more natural foods are being replaced by cheaper pre-processed packaged alternatives with high levels of salt, sugar and fat that fill the stomach, but do not nourish and in fact promote ill health and disease.
India is the diabetic capital of the world, with the highest concentration of diabetics in any single country. Hypertension closely follows, leading to an overall non-communicable disease (NCD) burden reaching epidemic proportions. A major pathway leading here is the rise of overweight and obesity, as a consequence of poor diets combining with sedentary lifestyles.
Health star ratings are designed by the powerful food industry to mislead the consumer. If the government is serious about the epidemic of obesity and non-communicable diseases, the consumer needs to be cautioned about junk foods through warning’ labels, public health experts gathered at the National Conclave on Sustainable Food Systems’, organized by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in Nimli, Rajasthan, said.
The government should issue a warning’ label on packaged junk foods instead of health star ratings as they are misleading and doing more harm to customers than good, health experts said on Wednesday. Health star rating is a labelling system that grades packaged foods on the scale of one to five stars.
By pushing these, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will give license to glorify junk foods, which is the opposite of what should be done, Director General, CSE, said while leading the expert deliberation on the Need for front-of-pack warning labels on ultra-processed junk foods’. Health star ratings are designed by the powerful food industry to mislead the consumer.
Front-of-pack labelling on packaged foods was first recommended by the FSSAI-led committee formed in 2013. CSE was part of this committee. FSSAI then came up with a draft regulation in 2018, which had strict thresholds limits to know unhealthy levels based on those developed by the WHO for countries like India in the South-East Asia Region.Due to industry pressure, FSSAI came up with another draft in 2019.
The food industry was still not pleased and this draft was repealed.
From January-June 2021, stakeholder consultations were held on the labelling design to be adopted, thresholds to made applicable and nutrients to be displayed.
CSE has documented all delays and dilutions until June 2021, the organisation alleged in a statement.
The latest consultation took place in February during which it was made clear that FSSAI plans to go ahead with the Health Star Rating’.
The sole objective of the stakeholder consultations, which were heavily dominated by the packaged food industry, was to come up with a labelling system, which is industry-friendly, said Khurana, who was part of these consultations, adding that all this while, FSSAI has been insensitive to the information needs of the consumer.
He alleged that the statutory body also ignored the global best practices and evidence around it. Instead, in an orchestrated way, through the scientific panel and commissioned studies, it is now getting ready to adopt a labelling system which is considered least effective and rejected across the world, he said.
Health star ratings are depicted based on an algorithm at the back-end, which is not known to consumers, CSE said, adding that it is only adopted voluntarily in few countries such as Australia and New Zealand and only some food products carry it.
It has been rejected in several other countries as it can mislead the consumer and be easily manipulated by the industry, the CSE said.The proven best practice in front-of-pack labelling is nutrient specific warning’ labels, experts said.They have been simple and effective in discouraging junk food consumption. Several Latin American countries, Canada and Israel have already adopted warning labels.Many other countries are considering them.
Among them, the best known are symbol-based warning labels such as that of Israel. These will be most suitable for India, as it would transcend the literature and language barriers, the CSE said.We have submitted our concerns to FSSAI. It can’t allow a system that will effectively nudge the consumer to make unhealthy choices. It will mislead the consumer because of its design, algorithm and inclusion of positive nutrients in the calculation. It can’t allow relaxed limits and voluntary adoption, Narain said.
The painful incident of Dr Archana Sharma’s Suicide unmasks the everyday struggle of the doctors in the present era. Her supreme sacrifice depicts the plight of doctors- being undervalued and demonized, forced to work as a sub-servant to bureaucrats, irresponsible policing, blackmail by goons and vulture journalism-all have become an accepted form of harassment. Her suicide has unveiled the despondency, moral burden of mistrust that doctors carry. Her death is the result of the apathy of fair justice that eludes medical community. Sadly, the society is unable to realize its loss.
Negligent police, indifference of Government and venomous media has made it impossible for health care workers to work in a peaceful environment. It may not be a good idea to opt for a medical career any more. In the present circumstances, when doctors themselves are doubtful about the advice for choosing medical career, some people are naïve enough to spend millions on securing an expensive medical college seat. Problems faced by doctors are not only innumerable but are also so exceedingly complex that they are difficult to be analysed. Doctors feel so disgusted about the entire system that they do not encourage their children to take up this profession which until now was one of the coveted ones, there must be something going terribly wrong with the profession.
Disadvantages of being a doctor, Drawbacks of Medical profession:
Medical courses are comparatively lengthy and expansive study course and difficult training with slave like duties. “enslavement of doctors”.
Uncertain future for aspiring doctors at time of training: Nowadays, doing just MBBS is not enough and it is important to specialize. Because of lesser seats in post-graduation, poor regulation of medical education, uneven criteria, ultimately very few people get the branch and college of their choice. They have to just flow with system ultimately.
3.Hostile environment for doctors to begin: Suddenly young and bright children complete training and find themselves working in a hostile environment, at the receiving end of public wrath, law, media for reasons they can’t fathom. They face continuous negative publicity, poor infrastructure and preoccupied negative beliefs of society.
Difficult start of career: After a difficult time at medical college, an unsettled family life and with no money, these brilliant doctors begin their struggle. Even before they start earning a penny, the society already has its preconceived notions because of negative media publicity and half treats them as cheats and dishonest. Their work is seen with suspicion and often criticised.
The fear and anxiety about the actual treatment, favourable and unfavourable prognosis of patient, keeps mind of a doctor occupied.
Blamed for all malaise: The society gets biased because of the media reports and some celebrity talking glib against medical profession. The blame for inept medical system, administrative failure and complexity of medical industry is conveniently loaded on doctors. These lead to formation of generalised sentiment against all doctors and are then unfortunately blamed for all the malaise in the entire healthcare system.
Personal and family life suffers: Large number of patients with lesser number of doctors is a cause of difficult working circumstances, and the frequent odd hour duties have a very negative impact on the family and personal life of the doctor.
Risk to doctor himself: Repeated exposure to infected patients in addition to long work hours without proper meals make them prone to certain health hazards, like infections which commonly include tuberculosis and other bacterial and viral illnesses. Radiologists get radiation exposure. Because of difficult working conditions, some doctors are prone to depression, anxiety and may start on substance abuse.
Unrealistic expectations of society: Every patient is not salvageable but commonly the relatives do not accept this reality. Pressure is mounted on doctor to do more while alleging that he is not working properly. Allegations of incompetency and negligence are quite common in such circumstances. These painful discussions can go to any extent and a single such relative every day is enough to spoil the mood for the day.
Retrospective analysis of doctor’s every action continues all the life: It could be by patients and relatives every day in the form of “Why this was not done before?” Every day irritating discussions, arguments, complaints, disagreements add to further pain and discontentment, in case the patient is not improving. Or it could be by courts and so many regulatory bodies. If unfortunately there is a lawsuit against a doctor, he will be wasting all his time with lawyers and courts, which will takes years to sort out.
The decision taken in split seconds will be questioned, which in retrospect may not turn out to be the best one. But later retrospective analysis along with wisdom of hindsight with luxury of time (in courts) may be labelled as wrong if a fault-finding approach is used. This along with general sentiment and sympathy with patients makes medical profession a sitting duck for lawsuit and punishments. Even if the doctor is proved to be not guilty, his harassment and tarnishing of reputation would be full and almost permanent.
Physical assault, routine instances of verbal abuse and threat are common for no fault of theirs. Many become punching bags for the inept medical system and invisible medical industry. Recently, even female doctors have not been spared by mobs. Silence of prominent people, celebrities and society icons on this issue is a pointer towards increasing uncivilized mind-set of society.
Medical industry may be rich but not the doctors: The belief that doctor’s is a rich community is not correct. Although decent or average earnings may be there, but earnings of most doctors is still not commiserate with their hard work viz-a-viz other professions. Doctors who also work like investor, a manager or collaborate with industry may be richer. But definitely most of doctors who are just doing medical care are not really rich.
Windfall profits for lawyers and law industry at the cost of doctors is a disadvantage for medical profession: It is heart-breaking to watch zero fee and fixed commission ads on television by lawyers in health systems in certain developed countries. They lure patients to file law suits and promise them hefty reimbursements. There is no dearth of such relatives, lawyers who are ready to try their luck, sometimes in vengeance and sometimes for lure of money received in compensations. This encouragement and instigations of lawsuit against doctors is a major disadvantage for medical profession.
Overall, a complex scenario for doctors: There is increasing discontentment amongst doctors because of this complex and punishing system. They are bound by so many factors that they finally end up at the receiving end all the time. They are under Hippocratic Oath and therefore expected to work with very high morality, goodwill and kindness for the sufferings of mankind and dying patients. They are also supposed to maintain meticulous documentation and also supposed to work under norms of medical industry. They are supposed to see large number of patients with fewer staff and nursing support while still giving excellent care in these circumstances. And if these were not enough, the fear of courts and medico-legal cases, verbal threats, abuses, and physical assaults and show of distrust by patient and relatives further makes working difficult. Additionally there may be bullying by certain administrative systems at places, which use pressure tactics to get their own way.
It may be a naïve idea or just a blunder to pay millions to be a doctor.
Many have woken up to India’s plastic waste generation problem after worrying data was presented in Parliament. But alarm bells have been ringing for a long time. According to the Centre, plastic waste generation has more than doubled in the last five years, with an average annual increase of 21.8%. A 2018-2019 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report puts India’s annual plastic waste generation at 3.3 million metric tonnes. This, according to experts, is an underestimation. Seven states — Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu — contribute to 66% of the country’s total plastic generation. And, Goa and Delhi’s per capita plastic use is six times higher than the national average. A 2018 study by IIT Kharagpur found that 49% of waste in Delhi drains was plastic.
There is need for robust national plan, ensure transparency and to involve every stakeholder- from Government and industries to every last citizen.
New Delhi [India], February 18 (ANI): Taking forward the commitment to eliminate single-use plastics, the Environment Ministry has notified comprehensive guidelines on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the guidelines on extended producer responsibility coupled with the prohibition of identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, with effect from July 1, 2022, are important steps for reducing pollution caused by littered plastic waste in the country.
The minister said that the guidelines provide a framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste, promote the development of new alternatives to plastics and provide further next steps for moving towards sustainable plastic packaging by businesses. “Reuse of rigid plastic packaging material has been mandated in the guidelines to reduce the use of fresh plastic material for packaging,” Yadav said.
The Ministry said that the enforceable prescription of a minimum level of recycling of plastic packaging waste collected under EPR along with the use of recycled plastic content will further reduce plastic consumption and support the recycling of plastic packaging waste.
The EPR guidelines will give a boost for formalization and further development of the plastic waste management sector. As a significant first, the guidelines allow for the sale and purchase of surplus extended producer responsibility certificates, thus setting up a market mechanism for plastic waste management.
“The implementation of EPR will be done through a customized online platform which will act as the digital backbone of the system. The online platform will allow tracking and monitoring of EPR obligations and reduce the compliance burden for companies through online registration and filing of annual returns. In order to ensure monitoring on fulfilment of EPR obligations, the guidelines have prescribed a system of verification and audit of enterprises,” it said.
The guidelines prescribe a framework for the levy of environmental compensation based upon the polluter pays principle, with respect to non-fulfilment of extended producer responsibility targets by producers, importers and brand owners, for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environment pollution, the Ministry added.
It further said that the funds collected shall be utilized for collection, recycling and end of life disposal of uncollected plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner.
Under these producers, importers and brand owners may operate schemes such as deposit-refund system or buy-back or any other model in order to prevent the mixing of plastic packaging waste with solid waste. (ANI)
In an era, when even licensed and qualified doctors are finding it difficult to practice medicine, it is strange that unqualified and unlicensed are having a field day. Why strict regulations do not apply to them, is beyond any reasoning and logic. If a medical facility or clinic is functional, it is difficult for the patient, especially in emergency, to check or even doubt its credentials. How such facilities are open, functional and thriving. Sadly our regulation is trying to regulate, who are already regulated. It is trying to punish those who are qualified and licensed, but turns a blind eye towards unlicensed and unqualified doctors.
Such fake doctors own medical set ups, may conduct surgeries, sometimes run hospitals with little help from qualified doctors and do procedures. Another problem is that they promote fake rumours about genuinely qualified doctors and create a mist of mistrust to propagate their fake medical business.
The glans of an infant’s penis shrivelled and fell off after a quack tied a horse’s hair around it ‘to prevent bleeding’ after a ritual of circumcision. The child was rushed to hospital, where a surgery was performed to ensure that the baby will be able to urinate normally, but the boy has lost his glans.. A quack had conducted the religious ritual of circumcision on November 22, 2021, and tied a horse hair to the child’s penis. He then bandaged it and told the family to go home.
The child was born in October 2021. Ten days later, the family members noticed that the glans had come off along with the dressing. Families choose to get their male infants circumcised by neighbourhood quacks. This is not just unhygienic, but can lead to major complications as well. Other unhealthy practices like sprinkling ash on the wound after circumcision are also prevalent.
A toddler has died and his baby brother has required life-saving surgery in hospital after a medical procedure, understood to have been a circumcision, went horribly wrong in Perth’s south-east. The brothers were rushed to hospital in Armadale by family Tuesday evening following the surgeries. The West Australian reports a two-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the hospital’s emergency department. His infant brother – aged between seven and eight months – was rushed to Perth Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery.7NEWS reports he has since been discharged from hospital. WA Police have confirmed the toddler’s death is not being treated as suspicious. “It can be confirmed the boy underwent a medical procedure at a registered medical centre prior to his death,” a police spokeswoman said.
Circumcisionis one of the oldest surgical procedures and one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in practice today. Descriptions of ritual circumcision span across cultures, and have been described in ancient Egyptian texts as well as the Old Testament. In the United States, circumcision is a commonly performed procedure. It is a relatively safe procedure with a low overall complication rate. Most complications are minor and can be managed easily. Though uncommon, complications of circumcision do represent a significant percentage of cases seen by paediatric urologists. Often they require surgical correction that results in a significant cost to the health care system. Severe complications are quite rare, but death has been reported as a result in some cases. A thorough and complete preoperative evaluation, focusing on bleeding history and birth history, is imperative. Proper selection of patients based on age and anatomic considerations as well as proper sterile surgical technique are critical to prevent future circumcision-related adverse events.
Social media has helped people communicate more and instantly. The use of social media among children has increased tremendously. But without doubt, it has great addictive potential and one such case as mentioned is reflecting just the tip of the iceberg. The side effects can be manifold, like psychiatric illness, loss of education, disconnection from the reality and loss of time are only a few, which are evident.
The complaint, filed by Tammy Rodriguez in San Francisco federal court earlier this week, claims Selena Rodriguez suffered from depression, sleep deprivation, eating disorders, and self-harm tied to her use of Instagram and Snapchat.
According to the filing, Selena began using social media roughly two years before her death by suicide in July 2021, during which time she developed “an extreme addiction to Instagram and Snapchat.” The filing also claims the 11-year-old missed school multiple times because of her social media use and that she was asked to send sexually explicit content by male users on both platforms.
Rodriguez wrote in the filing that she attempted to get her daughter mental health treatment several times, with one outpatient therapist saying she had “never seen a patient as addicted to social media as Selena.” At one point, Selena was hospitalized for emergency psychiatric care, according to the complaint.
In a statement, Snap said it couldn’t comment on the specifics of an active case but told Insider “nothing is more important to us than the wellbeing of our community.”
“We are devastated to hear of Selena’s passing and our hearts go out to her family,” a Snap spokesperson told Insider. “Snapchat helps people communicate with their real friends, without some of the public pressure and social comparison features of traditional social media platforms, and intentionally makes it hard for strangers to contact young people.”
The spokesperson continued: “We work closely with many mental health organizations to provide in-app tools and resources for Snapchatters as part of our ongoing work to keep our community safe.”
Meta and lawyers for Rodriguez did not respond to requests for comment.
Karina Newton, Instagram’s head of public policy, wrote in a September blog post that the Journal’s story “focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light.”
In other documents retrieved by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, the company found 13.5% of teen girls said Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse, while 17% of teen girls said Instagram exacerbates eating disorders.
After Haugen gave an interview with “60 Minutes” about the findings, Facebook previously issued this response: “It is not accurate that leaked internal research demonstrates Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teen girls. The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced. This research, like external research on these issues, found teens report having both positive and negative experiences with social media.”
In a medical first, doctors transplanted a pig heart into a patient in a last-ditch effort to save his life and a Maryland hospital said Monday that he’s doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery. While it’s too soon to know if the operation really will work, it marks a step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants.
In 1997, Dr Dhani Ram Baruah, along with Hong Kong surgeon Dr Jonathan Ho Kei-Shing, carried out a pig-to-human heart and lung transplant in Guwahati (India). The transplant stirred controversy all over and both the doctors were arrested within a fortnight for culpable homicide and under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, and imprisoned for 40 days.
The fault of Dr Baruah was that he was on the wrong side of the laws prevailing at that time. But now after 25 years USA has provided evidence that he was scientifically ahead of his times; hence punished and sent to jail for the same reason. Instead of updating the laws, accepting and promoting the scientific advancement and encouraging the brilliance of the doctor, he was put in jail. The result is that now everyone is hailing the feat of doctors in USA for the same surgery that Dr Baruah dared to perform 25 years ago.
In a patient with terminal heart failure, life is only possible if heart transplant is done. Human heart is difficult to be procured.
The point to ponder is that whether Laws should be made or may be updated to promote or help scientific brilliance or it is wise to follow them blindly without application to future wisdom. Instead of punishing and sending Dr Baruah to jail, Laws could have been modified or updated to help the path breaking advancement, which could have helped patients and saved lives.
Such high handedness of authorities just point to an ecosystem, where scientific advancements and individual brilliance are not respected.
As doctors in the United States hail the path-breaking surgery in which a patient is recovering after receiving a heart from a genetically modified pig in Maryland, it evokes memories of an Indian doctor who had attempted the same over 20 years ago in Assam.
We go back in time to take a look at the case in which Dr Dhani Ram Baruah, a transplant surgeon from Assam conducted a pig-to-human heart and lung transplant in Guwahati and why that incident got shrouded in controversy and led to him being imprisoned for 40 days.
In 1997, Dr Dhani Ram Baruah, along with Hong Kong surgeon Dr Jonathan Ho Kei-Shing, carried out a pig-to-human heart and lung transplant in Guwahati.
A Times of India report says that Dr Baruah transplanted a pig’s heart into a 32-year-old man, who had a ventricular septal defect, or hole in the heart.
According to Dr Baruah, the surgery — conducted at his very own facility, the Dhani Ram Baruah Heart Institute, and Institute of Applied Human Genetic Engineering at Sonapur outside Guwahati — was completed in 15 hours.
However, the 32-year-old man “developed new anti-hyperacute rejection biochemical solution to treat donor’s heart and lung and blind its immune system to avoid rejection”, reported the Indian Express, and he died a week later.
The transplant stirred controversy all over and both the doctors were arrested within a fortnight for culpable homicide and under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, and imprisoned for 40 days.
The Assam government formed an inquiry into the case and found that the procedure was unethical.
The inquiry also found that the Dr Dhaniram Heart Institute and Research Centre had “neither applied for nor obtained registration” as required under the transplant laws.
What happened next?
After being in jail for 40 days, the doctor returned to his clinic but found it to be destroyed. A Times of India report added that he spent the next 18 months under virtual house arrest.
But, the doctor, who faced taunts, continued his research.
Dr Baruah hit the headlines again in 2008 when he claimed that he had developed a ‘genetically engineered’ vaccine that would correct congenital heart defects.
In 2015, he once again became popular after claiming to have discovered the ‘cure’ for HIV/AIDS and that he had ‘cured’ 86 people in the past seven-eight years.
He also wrote to the UNAIDS, WHO and the National Institute of Health of USA to tell them of his ‘successes’ and was open to scrutiny.