Law to curb cut practice: Most doctors against ACB probing corruption
The Maharashtra Prevention of Cut Practices Act, 2017, is intended to make accepting or offering commissions for referral of patients by any healthcare provider as a legal offencemumbai Updated: Oct 27, 2017 10:21 IST
After receiving more than 250 suggestions and objections, most of which were from doctors, the draft of the law against cut practice is likely to be finalised soon. Cut practice refers to commission given by one doctor or hospital to another for referring a patient for investigations such as MRI, CT scans and X rays.
However, majority of those who made suggestions are against the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigating complaints related to cut practice.
The Maharashtra Prevention of Cut Practices Act, 2017, is intended to make accepting or offering commissions for referral of patients by any healthcare provider as a legal offence. Offenders will be liable to pay fine up to Rs 50,000 and face imprisonment up to five years, or both.
Indian Medical Association (IMA) which has over 40,000 members in Maharashtra, said that they are against the act as it can be used as a tool to harass those who are rightfully earning their living.
“There are existing laws to prevent corruption in medical fraternity so a separate act is not necessary. Secondly we have suggested that there should be district level committees, headed by district magistrates or retired judges to conduct investigations in association with members of MMC rather than letting ACB handle the investigations,” said Ashok Tambe, president of IMA Maharashtra.
Tambe added that since the definition of cut practice is too convoluted, smaller nursing homes and private doctors will bear the brunt of the act rather than actual offenders.
After campaigns were initiated demanding of a law to curb cut practice, the government had set up a 20-member committee in July, 2017, under Pravin Dixit, former Director General of Police, to prepare the draft for the new law. The committee prepared the draft and uploaded it for suggestions and recommendations from various stakeholders. Until Wednesday, the committee received more than 250 suggestions and objections. The committee, which drafted the law, believes that the ACB is the most competent agency to probe matters pertaining to corruption in the medical field.
The draft law says that complainants can go to the local ACB office. The law also gives the state power to initiate suo-moto proceedings against offenders without lodging a formal complaint. The suggestions will be put up before the committee for discussion, before the final draft of the law is submitted to the state for enactment.
Talking to HT, Dixit said a majority of the suggestions, which have come from allopathic medical practitioners, are against ACB investigating cases. He added that the doctors are suggesting that investigations should be done by a special committee or by members of Maharashtra Medical Council.
“The issue with this suggestion is that MMC’s ambit is restricted to the medical practitioners registered under them and it doesn’t extend to diagnostic laboratories, medical representatives and alternate medicine practitioners. Moreover, the act isn’t restricted to medical negligence, it’s largely to do with the corruption in the field for which ACB is the only competent body in the state,” he added.
Other members said the doctors are opposing the act thinking it will create hassles for those who rightfully earn their living.
“The act is against those who earn profits through referring patients and exploit those who blindly believe in healthcare facilitators. But they have to understand that majority of the offenders are those who are not governed by any other act like alternate medicine practitioners or diagnostic laboratories,” said a member of the committee.