Half Truths: Satyamev Jayate (Doctors in trouble)

Doctors and medical frauds should concern us all. I have had some horrid experiences that made me revaluate the dependency we have on medicines. Capsules, doctors, hospitals have been a prominent part of my life. So, I was truly glad to watch yesterday’s episode of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ because there are many of us who have no option but to blindly trust our bodies with those who are qualified but treat us as organs, rather than people.

This time, the host cut down on the vicariousness and concentrated on more information. However – yes, there is a clause – for much of the show the emphasis was on how people are forced to take medicines when they do not need any. One particular example was of a man who flashed a packet of ORS and said that he could have been cured of his diarrhoea and vomiting with this at Rs. 15 instead of the few thousand he spent at two different hospitals.

There are such cases. But ORS is available over the counter or can be prepared at home. What if people start thinking that since most doctors are going to fleece you/mislead you, it would be better to self-medicate? What if it indeed turns out to be a serious illness?

The solutions were simplistic. Go to a chemist for generic medicine and you save money. This is for drugs that are expensive and for major illnesses. What about those we take for common ailments?

It would have been topical had the show also brought up the recent case of a poor man whose wife was denied admission to a hospital after an accident and his sorry tale of running from one to another to another till she died.

The tale of a village in Andhra Pradesh where all women had their uteruses removed should have been seen from the population control perspective rather than medical malpractice. Someone is responsible at a higher level; this cannot be doctors just wanting to make women sterile to earn money.

It is perturbing to know that India spends only 1.4 % of its budget on healthcare. And it was good to see the efforts made by some to use the pay-in-advance scheme, where the poor and the rest can benefit based on their capacity.

The racket and the treatment are two different aspects. Aamir Khan, it is being said with much appreciation, grilled the Medical Council of India (MCA) chief. All he managed was a schoolmaster version of extracting a promise to behave. Taking away licenses from doctors for malpractice is all very well, but how many doctors do we have with regard to ratio of population? Many people still visit quacks. Then, there is the ancillary industry of homeopaths and ayurveda, and these days they are all meshing.

I only hope that we don’t see a spurt of ‘actions taken’ and then the lull. This is an ongoing problem, a tragedy of our country.

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Let me share something I had written earlier about exposing a doctor:

A few years ago I had followed up a case of neglect that could have led to death. A wrong blood group diagnosis prior to surgery. In a chawl at the far suburb of Ghatkopar in Mumbai resided this lower middle-class family; they put all their papers and trust before me. It was late night when I left them.

Next morning I decided to meet the doctor. I entered the clinic and after a very long wait his wife, also a doctor, told me he was not in town. It was a lie for the fruit vendor outside had in fact given me the exact address and also confirmed his presence.

When I went out, I told him he wasn’t in. “Aisa kaise ho sakta hai? Hum ne khud dehka aatey hue aur unki gaadi bhi yahaan hai.” (How is it possible? I saw him enter and his car is still there.)

It was raining outside. I crossed the street and lay in wait, hoping for something. Nothing. The showers were getting incessant and I was drenched. It must have been the time of a blink of an eye when I saw THE car get out of the gate. I couldn’t move. Where would I? How? It was a helpless situation. I left. An hour later a colleague from a magazine told me that he had got a call from the doctor, he was a nice man, very influential. The message was that I should keep shut.

I did not.

What happened? Did the family get anything out of it? No. Except that they had raised their voice. No action was taken despite their case being put before the medical council.

Slowly, it was almost forgotten…a year or so later I was shocked to read that this doctor had been given some award by his own fraternity.

The media today has a greater reach, more influence. It should use it as a weapon against offenders and act as a shield for those who need protection.

As for me, that scene still haunts me of a car that escaped and the rain that wouldn’t stop. It haunts me that I could do nothing. Absolutely nothing.


  1. from the moment a potential dr gives 'donation'to secure a medical seat...what follows is kind of inevitable. the govt. aids and abets this; no refresher training required, giving away land for free to corporate hospitals like fortis for mere pittance... so many ills... and the will to cure...probably visiting a doctor in some government hospital and we all know how bad it gets there.

  2. The international std is like one doctor in every 200 ppl but in India this ratio is like 1500 to one doctor. there are only 130 medical colleges in India (public), with this data how can we at all improve health care in India and I think it is a good thing to open private med colleges with private hospitals, but all the doctors have to pass the licencing EXAM ( make it very hard) and we will get good doctors. we should be able to sue doctors and insurance companies for malpractice.

  3. regarding using generic name and choosing the drugs of high price.... i want to say why one buys a 1500 rupees shirt instead of 100..... not only because of brand value..... but also because the shirt is more suited to wear..... same way a medicine from below quality company does not act as effectively such a medicine from a good company...... but our government takes no step against those medicine firm.....

    here i am sharing my first hand experience..... once i was suffering from cold n cough..... i took a medicine from below quality firm..... just to check how effective the medicine is... i did not get cure even after full course spending around 150.... but when i prescribed my father a course of 600 for medicine from a good company.... after 2 days he told me..... he was feeling better.... n after full course he got totally cured.....

    now one kindly say.... what a doc should do????? give a patient a medicine course of 150 and not sure whether he will gt cured n ruin his image or take responsibility of patient and ask him to buy a medicine course spending 600????

    speaking d truth.... I want to say one more thing.... Everyone knows what will b d different outcome when a patient is prescribed for a drug produced by a renowned and a bad company.... Now if a doctor prescribe by generic name who will monitor if patient is getting good company's medicine or the bad one???? more over most of the medicine shop does not have a pharmacist who can identify a medicine by only the generic name.... do one thinks a shop owner will give him the best medicine after after it is written in generic name or will sell the medicine which will give him the highest profit???? if Aamir Khan is pointing doctor prescribe a medicine to get commission.... can he guarantee that shop owner will sell a medicine without thinking about more profit????? at least a doctor has to maintain his reputation to earn his bread and butter.....

    if Indian govt produce each n every drug in their own company by generic name n take d guarantee if a patient does not get cured n die.... they will take d whole responsibility.... doctors have no problem writing each n every medicine with generic name.... but until that happens.... how will a doctor be sure about writing only generic name????

    giving him his due respect i must say.... in medical profession Aamir Khan is a lame man....

    a doctor is only answerable to his patients n while choosing a medicine one should choose the best medicine thinking about the affordability capacity of patients....

  4. Gulnaz:

    Isn't it surprising that capitation fees are talked about in legitimate terms now?

    From there it is bound to be about extracting pound of flesh.


    Healthcare is the government's duty. Private hospitals and doctors are merely part of this, like in education.

    Of course, people can and do sue private hospitals, but using this as option will not lessen the problem. There are laws. Has crime decreased?

  5. Anon:

    Thank you for giving another perspective.

    However, generic medicines are not like shirts. Besides, a more expensive one need not be better. People go for labels, often. I agree that generic medicine is not going to solve the problem.

    I know of people who opt for pricier ones and that acts as placebo. Here, the doctors cater to whims of patients.

    Why is it that some brands that are banned abroad are still sold here? The generic quality is not questionable but how a brand misuses it.

    Your suggestion for a 'tailored' prescription might work, but then it already exists. It is the large section that is left out of healthcare that needs to be given its due.

    Aamir Khan's audience and panel does not cater to them.

  6. mr. Anonymous, generic medicine does not mean cheap quality. It just means cheaper price, providing the same cure.

  7. I am with Mr Ameer Khan for his social responsible cast n I would like to inform all Doctors are Nt bad because some Doc r serving rural area with good heart if u r good no need to bother of comments if u r currupt u should see ur back


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