A veteran nephrologist Dr Sudarshan Ballal, medical director and chairman of India's third largest healthcare company Manipal Health Enterprises (Manipal Hospitals), feels public faith in medical professionals has significantly eroded and that the fraternity is itself responsible for this situation. He spoke to Ashish K Tiwari on corruption in the medical profession among other topics. Edited excerpts...
Corruption seems to have seeped into this noble profession and doctors / medical practitioners are being alleged with it every now and then. Your comments.
I think what doctors are these days is the reflection of society. Corruption is there everywhere in the society and it is bound to be there in the doctor’s community as well. We are in an extremely noble profession and we don’t want to see corruption here, but unfortunately the presence of it is there.
There are various instances of wrong diagnosis / treatment / surgery etc by doctors...
I am sure there is truth to this, and I would lie if I say there is nothing like this. But as far possible, the hospitals should follow honest and ethical practices of medicine.
What do you have to say on the decreasing faith in doctors these days?
There is a lot of corruption still and indeed public faith has eroded for which we are responsible. We will have to remember that if we behave badly the patients would also behave the same way. But I still believe that fair number of doctors don’t indulge in any corrupt practices. With money being such a ruling factor in the modern day, corruption has also crept in, but it is our fundamental responsibility to ensure fair and honest practice.
What are regulatory bodies doing to curb this menace?
Regulatory bodies like the State Medical Council and Medical Council of India come down harshly on such doctors. If doctors indulge in corrupt practices they are likely to lose their license. Lot of restrictions also have brought in by the Medical Council of India on pharma companies sponsoring doctors and any violations lead to the loss of license which for a doctor is like a death bell. Hopefully the mindset of the doctors would also change for good and thus the percentage of unethical practices would also go down.
Is the occurrence of corruption more in the new age doctors?
When I was growing up during the 1950s and 1960s there was hardly any corruption and it was true to most of the verticals. The formative years are very important, if you are exposed in seeing people who are indulging in corrupt practices and making lot of money from it, and then you might think that is the way to it.