Dr K. K Aggarwal, President of the Indian Medical Association ( IMA), spoke to Healthpost about a host of issues : the deteriorating doctor-patient relationship, generic drugs, Clinical Establishment Act of West Bengal, etc. Excerpts:
How do you think has doctor- patient relationship changed?
The smart phone era has brought about a paradigm shift in the thinking and behaviour of patients. Today, they want to be the decision- maker and want to know everything about drugs, investigations and treatment.
A few weeks back, there were numerous reports of assault on doctors. Do you think it will have a long-term effect on doctor-patient relationship?
The doctor-patient relationship and the thinking of society towards doctors have already changed. The assaults on doctors , I think, is a reaction to that. It’s a road rage- like situation. But I believe it is a temporary phase and will pass in a few years.
Who is responsible for this mistrust?
The government needs to change its policy for healthcare system to run smoothly in the country. People should have universal insurance.
The government should fulfil its constitutional duty to provide primary and emergency care to all. It is the government’s duty to ensure that no one dies of disease because he or she can’t afford treatment.
But somehow people have started expecting doctors to perform the government’s duty. They do not understand that making affordable healthcare accessible is the government’s duty, not doctors’. People also need to change their attitude towards doctors.
They don’t understand that there are not enough doctors to meet the demand of the growing population.
How do you look at the government’s decision to cap the price of stents?
The IMA supported it. But we should not stop at stents, the government should make other life-saving devices such as pacemaker, catheters, orthopaedic implants affordable for people.
Doctors across India observed black day to protest against the Clinical Establishment Act of West Bengal. Why?
The main problem with the Clinical Establishment Act of West Bengal is that it allows criminalization of medical practice by my non-judicial people.
I believe that no doctor would make mistakes deliberately, so why medical negligence should be considered a criminal offense? Medical science is a complex science, where you deal with living beings. Everybody reacts differently to different diseases or treatment. Medicines have a different effect on different people. We have in place a mechanism of compensation for errors. Also one must remember that an error of judgment or difference of opinion are not negligence. To make an error is human, isn’t?
The government has asked the doctors to prescribe generic medicines. How has doctors taken to this decision?
My question here is why a pharmaceutical company should be allowed to sell the same molecule at different price under generic, trade and brand tags. If government ensures that a company is allowed to sell one molecule at one price, this question of generic will not arise.