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Can one take action against irresponsible medical professionals?

Q: I have a problem with some medical professionals. I have not been keeping well for some time and have seen many doctors. What can a patient do against unethical, callous and irresponsible doctors, who instead of treating the patient fleece them endlessly by ordering unnecessary invasive investigations? There is an unholy nexus between certain doctors and path labs. I don't trust the MCI. Just like the Bar Council it will not take action against somebody from its own fraternity. Are there some NGOs/individuals around who can help aggrieved/cheated patients?

A:I am in complete sympathy with you. Your plight is the result of many factors - lack of character in some medical professionals, the conversion of a calling into commerce, corruption and inefficiency in policing agencies and disappearance of respect for the patient. When these are discussed at medical meetings, many doctors attempt the following defence: But all these deficiencies are to be seen in every walk of life. Police, judges, lawyers, bureaucrats, ministers... all are corrupt and care not for the public. How can the medical profession remain untainted? This argument does not hold water, as medical professionals are highly educated. If after 12 years in school, two years in Science College and 6 years or more in medical college they are to justify one wrong by another then they have failed the test for education. The definitive solution to the ills in the medical profession and its policing agencies, alas, is difficult for it involves improvement in the character of each and every professional. Attempts are being made by individuals and groups to bring some sense into the present sad situation. To date we see no significant change. To turn to your last sentence, you have a few options available to you. You could consult experts at reputed teaching hospitals such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences instead of going to those in private practice. You could find a competent and honest family physician - admittedly not an easy task. Having found this person, identify with her/his help ethical consultants and seek their opinion, advice. I know and can vouch for the competence, honesty and sincerity of Dr. Samiran Nundy, consultant gastro-intestinal surgeon at the Sir Gang Ram Hospital. He will know of others who are from the same rare species of ethical doctors and may be able to guide you further. Finally, your experiences enable you to spearhead a drive for competent, ethical medical practice. You could form a group of similarly disenchanted persons and start a public-spirited movement to identify and recommend ethical doctors and denounce unethical doctors. If your group has the muscle and time, you could even attempt cleansing the Augean stables in the Medical Council of India. Many of us believe that change will only be effected when society at large takes arms against the corruption within the body medical. I sincerely wish you power to your elbows, hope you will take up the struggle on behalf of all patients and their families and will achieve at least some measure of success.


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