With regard to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, tabled in the Karnataka Assembly in June 2017, we support the government’s decision of regulating private medical establishments, introducing a Charter of patients rights, creating a grievance redressal committee and fixing a cap on rates.
Karnataka has seen a massive overgrowth of the private sector which has neither self-regulated nor allowed any form of government control. This has led to rampart overcharging, denial of patient rights, negligence, unnecessary procedures and tests. Patients have been over-charged and held to ransom. The cost to life and the burden that private health-care has imposed on patients has been well documented in India as well as other countries. Government health services, on the other hand, have systems of monitoring and oversight, even if the implementation has generally been poor.
When the government health system is strong, health has shown to improve, easily measured by maternal and child mortality rates. The government health system, apart from its curative role, plays an important role in prevention, promotion of health and rehabilitation. The private sector has never taken up preventive roles because that has low economic value. While the public sector undergoes rigorous training on management of diseases of public health importance such as tuberculosis, HIV, non-communicable disease, dengue etc., the private sector has often initiated treatments that not only lead to bad outcomes for the patient, but create major public health problems such as antibiotic resistance, Multi-drug resistance and other complications which are then left for the public health system to manage. Rather than working on prevention of public health diseases like dengue, the private sector often capitalizes on the fear syndrome for its own private gain.
It is also well known that private hospitals have no mechanism of reporting data on morbidity, mortality, cesarean sections, hysterectomies and other surgeries. There is poor documentation and maintenance of records of rationale for investigations and treatment, referral patterns and cause of death, if it occurs. Patients therefore have very little access to information if they would like a second opinion, which they are entitled to, or if they suspect negligence and would like to follow the case legally. The public health system has a more rigorous system of data collection and transmission, which helps to understand disease and mortality, as well as diseases of public health concern.It is also well known that expert doctors very rarely testify against colleagues even in the face of obvious denial of care or negligence. This makes patients and their relatives extremely vulnerable and puts them completely at the mercy of a medical establishment with doctors as experts.
We therefore feel that your move to regulate the private medical establishment is urgently required and long overdue. We feel that the government should not give in to the pressure by the corporate private sector lobby and instead do whatever is required to ensure that all patients, irrespective of their ability to pay, are offered access to comprehensive preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care.
Dear friends, as you may be aware, private hospital doctors in Karnataka have been protesting for two days, demanding that the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment (Amendment) bill should not be passed. A lobby of private hospital doctors are meeting with the Chief minister to demand that this Bill not be passed.
This would go a long way in making the government people centric instead of market centric, and make Karnataka a model in comprehensive health care for other states to follow.
Lets unite and act for a just and efficient health care system in Karnataka