Indian Medical Association criticises Mumbai hospital for hoarding about kickbacks
Mumbai city news: The Asian Heart Institute, which put up the advertisement, said that its doctors supported it.mumbai Updated: Jun 14, 2017 00:22 IST
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) — the country’s largest body of doctors — asked a hospital in Bandra-Kurla Complex to remove a hoarding, which read ‘Honest Opinion, No Commission’.
The hoarding, according to the IMA, brought disrepute to the medical profession as it suggested that other hospitals accepted commissions, often called ‘cut practice’. The Asian Heart Institute, which put up the advertisement, said that its doctors supported it.
Cut practice refers to a commission given to a doctor to refer a patient to another doctor or hospital for tests such as MRI, CT scans and X-rays.
“The advertisement is unethical and is in bad taste. You don’t have to advertise that you are honest. It is your duty to be honest and ethical,” said Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, president-elect, IMA. He added that the hospital had agreed to pull down the hoarding. However, hospital officials did not reveal if they were ready to remove the advertisement.
In an official statement, the hospital said, “The aim of this advertisement was to share that we stand vehemently against cut practice. As a society and a nation, we are up against a great challenge. After we put up the hoarding, we got tonnes of congratulatory calls from doctors and hospitals.”
“We have invited the IMA to stand alongside us and show solidarity in eliminating cut practice from medicine,” it added.
Several medical journals have highlighted the menace of cut practice in the Indian healthcare system.
For example, Dr David Berger, who volunteered as a physician at a charitable hospital in the Himalayas, wrote in an article published in the British Medical Journal in 2014, “The country’s doctors and medical institutions live in an ‘unvirtuous circle’ of referral and kickback that poisons their integrity and destroys any chance of a trusting relationship with their patients.”
Meanwhile, IMA officials said that if the hoarding was not pulled down soon, they would send an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Council of India.