The doctors stir at the Osmania General Hospital (OGH) has exposed the dark underbelly of healthcare, where organised rings of extortionists lurk in the corridors of hospitals, holding doctors to ransom. And giving them a free run in the absence of security cover and CCTV coverage.
Each time a case goes wrong or a death occurs, these gangs of extortionists reach the hospital with the family of the patient and arm-twist doctors into shelling out money from their own pockets. Doctors are often threatened with dire consequences if they refuse to give in and many have been manhandled too.
The modus operandi of such groups is getting hold of information regarding any complicated surgeries that go wrong or deaths that happen in the hospitals.
"These they get by working hand in glove with lower level staff like ambulance drivers, ward boys and sweepers within hospitals. Each of these staffers are given a cut in the commission once the money is received. Since doctors are white collar employees, they do not approach police and many end up paying from their own pockets," revealed Dr Sanjeev Singh Yadav, president,
Indian Medical Association (IMA), Hyderabad. The frequent extortion bids are in addition to the constant threat of assault hanging over the doctors' heads. "It is not always possible for a doctor to save the lives of all patients and some may succumb to their illness despite best efforts. Even in the rare instances that a doctor misdiagnoses a patient's ailment, it is not his intention to spoil a case or kill the patient. Doctors are not gods, but the relatives of patients often fail to understand this.
The organized gangs try their best to instigate them further and demand huge sums," said a doctor, who has been at the receiving end of such gangs.
Though the problem is learnt to be more pronounced in hospitals located in the peripheral areas of the city, even hospitals in the heart of the city are plagued by this menace, admit doctors. In fact, doctors in private hospitals, especially in smaller ones, end up falling prey to extortionists. "Our hospital has had two to three such episodes in the past where attendants came with a bunch of goons seeking money.
They use all kinds of tactics, from downright threats to trying to extract money on humanitarian grounds," admitted Dr Manish Gupta, RMO, Government ENT Hospital at Koti.
The doctor himself was accosted by a group of 20 such goons a few years back.In fact so bad is the situation that when a doctor is being manhandled, other doctors are too scared to intervene, said insiders.