On 21 March, a mobile court fined United Hospital, a pompous private hospital in the capital’s Gulshan, Tk. 20 lakh for using expired reagents in medical tests, and surgical items without expiry dates.
Reportedly, the expired reagents were preserved in domestic freezers instead of pharmaceutical freezers violating medical norms. The court also found imported medicines without having their country of origin mentioned. The mobile court deserves kudos for such a raid in a so-called elite hospital.
Previously, a RAB mobile court on Feb 19 raided another renowned hospital, Apollo Hospitals, at Bashundhara in the capital and fined it Taka 5 lakh for selling counterfeit drugs and keeping expired reagents. From these two raids and news items, it transpires that so-called elite hospitals in the country are resorting to malpractices just for profit maximisation. They are there for profit with little regard for precious human lives, let alone maintaining minimum ethical standards.
If such is the condition of the so-called elite hospitals of the country, what about thousands of ordinary hospitals and diagnostic centres spread all over the country? Yes, what to think and talk about the ordinary hospitals? If such so-called elite hospitals are engaged in such illegal and immoral activities, how to expect the ordinary hospitals to behave better? What overall picture do these revelations give about the hospitals and diagnostic centres of the country?
Is there anything to be optimistic? What about the patients who rush to such hospitals in search of quality medical services? Admittedly, Apollo and United hospitals claim themselves to be of high quality in terms of medical facilities and services and the charges they take for such services are no doubt exorbitant. The fees they take for many services are 4/5 times bigger than those of ordinary hospitals.
It needs to be mentioned here that many of the doctors in these hospitals ensure that the patients undergo maximum number of tests for profit maximisation purposes. Though some tests are genuinely required for proper diagnosis of some diseases, some expensive tests may easily be avoided by the doctors. However, experienced ones know pretty well that many, if not all, doctors do not think much about the financial conditions of the patients.
Then, how to explain such offences that are being perpetrated by the so-called elite hospitals? The mentioned ones and some other hospitals in Dhaka boast very elegant interiors that give looks of 5 star hotels. Such looks are not bad at all. Such neat and bright looks might provide the patients and their attendants with kind of tranquility and might even sooth their stresses to a degree. However, why cheat with the patients who do not pay the hospitals less?
People of the country must have been pleased at establishment of such hospitals. Now, however, it seems that they are being deceived even after being forced to pay heavily as fees for getting medical services at such hospitals. What are the faults of the patients that go there? Do they bargain with the hospital authorities for lessening the charges? Then, why are the hospital authorities playing with the lives and well-being of the patients? Is this a punishment for not going abroad for treatment all sorts of ailments?
Doctors are said to be second to God. Yes, indeed! For a patient in pain, a doctor is indeed a precious person upon whose decision and care life and pain of a patient can be saved and relieved. Doctors, too, tend to respond to the needs of the patients most of the time. There are, however, complaints against some doctors about misbehaviours with the patients’ attendants. In fact, doctors are also humans. Kind of apathy may develop in them due to be in touch with patients for months and years.
Thus, some doctors, at times, become cross so easily and react rather angrily to the needs and demands of the patients. Misdemeanour in such cases is not unlikely. However, even some good gestures by doctors can heal the patients’ pains and agonies. Unfortunately, however, such indoctrination is, perhaps, not cultivated in our medical colleges. Maybe, that is why intern doctors tend to go for strikes very often to get their demands met no matter whether they are valid or not.
In fact, in Bangladesh, the doctors enjoy great freedom. Some have even escaped punishment thanks to doctors’ group pressure. In the modern world, however, this is a rarity. People are kind of helpless towards the doctors. Unfortunately, some doctors in the country take full advantage of the situation and do not deem it necessary to feel much concern for the patients. As common people do not have any option, they cannot force a change in the behaviour of such doctors either.
In fact, commercialisation of professions has become a common phenomenon of the age. Very few can claim that they are adhering to the ethical standards of their respective professions. Doctors are also members of the society. Thus, it is natural that commercialisation would have impact upon them as well. In this age of fierce competition for money and might, some doctors, like many others in the society, take their professions just as a commercial vocation rather than a dedicated service for humanity.
Hopefully, the doctors of the country would be more sympathetic towards the patients. For this, medical associations are expected to play a proactive role. However, the brisk business that is being done by the so-called elite hospitals by deceiving the people needs to be checked. In fact, so-called elite hospitals of the country need to be hospitalised on an emergency basis and given proper treatment by the concerned and competent authorities so that their indomitable greed for profit can be mitigated.
The writer is a Professor, Department of Public Administration, Chittagong