Since the government started cracking down on sonography centres to curb sex-selective abortions, one of the common complaints state health minister Suresh Shetty has received is that action is taken against doctors for technical issues such as writing ‘NA’ instead of ‘not applicable’ on the F forms that have to be filled before every sonography.
Doctors across the city said that the government’s insistence on meticulous maintenance of records is amounting to harassment and justify poor record maintenance by citing staff shortage.
“Doctors are reluctant to maintain records. They complain that government officials are pointing out small mistakes, whereas details such as dates of admission are important,” said Shetty.
“Most doctors are averse to maintaining records such as patient admission, case files, discharge cards and notifiable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Most feel it is below their dignity to keep such records. However, we feel there is more to it. They moment they maintain records, it gets accounted, meaning they would have to pay tax,” said Pramod Nigudkar, director (programmes), Committed Communities Development Trust, which works for the rights of patients. He said the data fed by doctors into a larger system would also help the government in policymaking.
Doctors, however, said that maintaining such extensive records was next to impossible.
“We agree that meticulous records are required for important issues such as Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT) Act. But it is going to be a big problem if the government insists that every medicine have inward-outward invoice and records. We do not have support staff to maintain separate registers and keep track of all medicines,” said Dr Shivkumar Utture, who runs a nursing home in Matunga.
To tackle staff shortage, some doctors said they have switched to the electronic format for records.
“I am using a special software that records bar codes of each strip of medicine. But it is not economical and one needs to invest in the system as well as trained staff,” said Dr Bipin Pandit.