Perhaps taking a cue from railways' tatkal reservation system, a group of busy doctors in the city have devised a tatkal system of their own. Under the system, a doctor, who refuses to see a patient on the pretext of being too busy somehow manages to find time for a patient paying extra bucks for the purpose.
Sample this: A 45-year-old man, nervous at being diagnosed with diabetes calls up an endocrinologist and seeks an appointment.
The doctor asks him to come later in the week as patients registered at his clinic have a wait list of three days. As the patient shows eagerness to see the doctor immediately, the doctor replies, "You can come to my clinic immediately but you will have to pay Rs 1,000 extra."
The endocrinologist concerned is not the only doctor to have introduced a tatkal system at his clinic, there are many others.
Is it ethical? And, what is the entire hum bug about doctors maintaining a wait list of patients and asking a seriously ill patient to come a week later? Veteran physician, Dr NP Mishra, who never had a dearth of patients in his long medical career at Bhopal said, "The preferential treatment meted out to patients who pay more is not fair but some doctors are doing it.
"If at all there has to be such a system, all the doctors should follow it so that there is clarity in the minds of the patients. As far as a waiting list at doctors' clinics is concerned, it is fake. You can have more patients one day and less the next day but a doctor being too busy to see patients coming to his/her clinic, this situation doesn't exist in Bhopal."
"Tatkal system introduced by doctors or the wait list at clinics that you are referring to is an emulation of the practiced initially followed in Mumbai, where a doctor, who had to sell himself as one of the busiest doctor in town, would keep the patients waiting. Here too, I have seen doctors sitting with friends inside their cabin while patients keep waiting for them outside,” said oncologist Shyam Agrawal.
Senior surgeon at JP Hospital, Dr SK Saxena, agrees. “I fail to see any valid reason why a doctor should charge extra money from patients to see them out of turn. I don’t believe there are any doctors, who do not have time for patients coming to their clinic everyday. If you check the registers of these busy doctors, you would know they have not seen too many patients during the day,” he said.
However, there are doctors, who are in favour of a ‘tatkal’ system in the medical field for disciplined and organised functioning of clinics.
Nephrologist, Dr Sanjay Gupta said, “The patients these days neither have patience nor do they behave courteously. If someone feels that he is a VIP and cannot wait in queue, he should give extra money so that he doesn’t have to wait. I appreciate Dr Jindal, who has been frank in adopting the system, for an organised functioning of the clinic, otherwise there is drama at the clinic everyday. It’s not for earning money but to enforce discipline in the clinic. But this system is not working as everybody is prepared to pay extra bucks to get the doctor’s immediate attention.”
Endocrinologist, Dr Sushil Jindal, while justifying the ‘tatkal’ system, said, “When there is tatkal system in railways, airways, Tirupati temple, what’s wrong if doctors apply it in their clinics? I don’t get emergency patients and those who think they are VIPs should pay extra bucks and get preferential treatment.”