Category Archives: doctor’s fees

The Story of a Deadly Brain Aneurysm..“Doc, was the treatment delayed?”

The Story of a Deadly Brain Aneurysm..
“Doc, was the treatment delayed?”

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Doc, was the treatment delayed?”
The angry husband, Mr. Mane asked in a calm voice but the accompanying relatives had a menacing look upon their faces.

The patient, his wife Mrs. Sujata 35 years old, was brought unconscious two days ago, in a comatose state, at about midnight. I was out of city, so my colleague Neurologist rushed to the hospital and started treatment. We were constantly in touch, within an hour Sujata’s scans were completed, and she was shifted to a critical care unit. She had large bleeding in the brain, and was already beyond a possibility of surgical treatment.

About five years ago, she was diagnosed with an aneurysm in the brain. It is a defect in a blood vessel which balloons out as its walls become thinner and may rupture suddenly, causing either instant death or bleeding in the brain, many a times huge. This diagnosis needs immediate treatment, the right words that describe its risk are: “This is like sitting on a time bomb, not knowing when it is set to explode “.

Many patients do not have much symptoms besides headaches or minor neurological issues usually found on examination by a neurological expert. There are many NeuroIntervention specialists in India since last two decades, who can reach the balloon via a catheter/ tube and close the balloon/ aneurysm so the risk is eliminated and patient cured. Sometimes neurosurgeons are required to operate if the aneurysm has a wide base, and close the connection between the balloon and the artery from which it arises, by an open surgery. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Five years ago, we had informed all this to Mr. Mane and Mrs. Sujata. Like many educated patients nowadays, they obtained multiple opinions. Almost all doctors had told them what we had told. However one retired allopathic doctor, now quite old, and one non-allopathic practitioner told them “It is not necessary to do the surgery. Doctors these days advise unnecessary costly treatments”. They started some vitamins and health boosters. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The couple decided to wait. The came for follow up once after two years, we told them it was better to operate, but they said “We met our neighbour doctor, he is very senior, and he said that there’s no danger in waiting. I think he knows, see, nothing has happened in two years.. we are happy as it is!”

After that they did not follow up. They had even stopped allopathic medicines. They had come now, when she was beyond any possibility of rescue.

When after a day we told the family that she was brain dead, they asked the question above: “Was her treatment delayed?”.

After explaining to them that everything was done faster than even the best centers in America would have done, they calmed down.

Out of curiosity I asked Mr. Mane: “What did your neighbouring Doc say, the one who had advised to not operate her?”

“Oh, he was very kind. He said nature is cruel and anything can happen anytime to anyone. He arranged for an ambulance too for us.”.

Mrs. Mane didn’t make it, we all felt very sad that a young life that could have survived was lost to a wrong advice. Many doctors who do not specialise in certain complicated and advanced branches of medicine often try to please the patient by giving them an advice that attempts to impress the patient by saying what they want to hear.

It is true that sometimes surgeries are wrongly advised and performed, hence the social confusion about trust. There’s only one way out- explaining the patients and giving them credible websites to refer to, referring them to another specialist who is qualified in that branch. Some trust-less patients will still pay with their health and life. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

If such cases go to the courts of law, challenging the speed and/ or efficiency of treatment, the honourable courts should consider delays and decisions at every step beginning from the day of onset of symptoms, the delays in visiting doctor, specialist, performing advised tests, obtaining another opinion if advised and getting the prescribed treatment in time. Just holding the doctors and hospitals responsible for not being able to rescue the patient at the last stage is not justified.

Leave aside a few wrong ones, but most surgeons only advise a surgery after deeply thinking about all possibilities, risks and outcomes. Sometimes even when the outcome is uncertain, they must operate. At such times their reputation and career is at a stake, because every mistake is nowadays amplified into a media blast. Still they think about what’s the best for the patients, and try to do their best. Surgeries and procedures, even the costliest, are the cheapest in India since last thirty years- surgeon’s fees are still lowest in all branches, and if we consider the medicolegal and media risk and a violent mobs backed by some politicos, actually the doctor is at a high risk during every major surgery. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

A doctor is not a merchant or politician to sweet talk to the patient and give them a pleasant but wrong advice and jeopardise their future just to “retain the customer“. This is a noble profession where sometimes strongly worded and unpleasant solutions are essential to save the patient. To expect all the patients and relatives to understand complicated medical concepts and treatments (which takes even brilliant doctors years to grasp) is comical.

We sincerely hope that our society recognises the huge stress every doctor goes through, every day, trying to do their best for patients.
We also wish that the law, politicians and media note that it is often the delays before admission that kill the patients than those after.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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The Hurt Passion Of A Doctor

The Hurt Passion Of A Doctor
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The recent picture of our favourite cricketer Mr. M. S .Dhoni exhausted and fatigued on the field caused a lot of concern, and we wish him best health with many more years on the field. The passion with which he plays is inspiring, we all love and respect him just like we have loved and respected Mr. Sunil Gavaskar, Mr. Sachin Tendulkar, Mr. Anil Kumble, Mr. Virat Kohli and many other greats that the Indian cricket has produced.

By the age of 40 or so, most of the heavyweight sportspeople usually retire from a competitive life and take over other, less tiring jobs. They have spent their entire youth in working extremely hard, with untiring efforts to perfect their craft. The fields of both sports and films are unforgiving, and exceptional talent is required to make it to the top. On the plus side however is the recognition, fame, and money that follows success.

Where does a doctor stand then?

While we cannot compare any two professions given the different client-base and frustrations of each, we can definitely draw some parallels. Competing intellectually starts from school for every doctor, innumerable hours in studying, applying the best mental effort to performance, and overcoming all temptations of a light-heartedly enjoying outside world are just basic compulsions if one has to excel at least in India. The extreme competition for medical admission is worst in our country.

However, that’s just the beginning, and the real struggle starts after one joins medicine: exhausting timetables, extra work and duties, unending patient loads of an hygiene- illiterate society abandoned on health front by its own government are the basic premises. Add expectations of immediate cures and filmy, miraculous recoveries with best recommended World-class internet treatments but with “Indian Compulsions” of charity treatment by doctors from their own pockets, and a never-ending game of moral-ethical looting, compassionless exploitation begins. In the midst of all that mud, a doctor must still keep studying to be abreast of all the modernities of his science, keep a calm mind and be polite and good to even the worst behaved.

Then come home and see pictures of compassion for celebrities. No we do not envy the celebrities. We love them as much as anyone else. We just hate the hypocrisy that our people have created: that if you choose a career in medicine, you are far less likely to be loved, whatever you do, however hard you work, and even if you lose your life. The whole government machinery which rushes to wish celebs and click selfies with them on every tiny occasion cannot have the list of doctors who died treating covid patients! Has anyone seen any selfie of any minister with the doctors who saved their lives from covid?© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
There are thousands of young and old doctors in India, this very moment, working in covid wards, more exhausted and tired than any cricketer in the world. They cannot retire: 99 percent are so financially dependant on their daily income or monthly salaries, that they have silently accepted the tyrannous, cruel policies of various governments to inhumanly exploit them. They are on the verge of death due to exhaustion, and some are already having thoughts of ending it all. Over 500 have died. But the very same society has no compassion for these exhausted doctors, it has abandoned the very heroes who have stood between them and death. Their salaries are pending, they have to buy their own masks and kits, and thousands are estranged form their families for quarantines.

A society that browbeats doctors and hospitals to convert compassion into acceptance of non-payment of bills (as if doctors do not have basic compassions and humanity that everyone else has!) has money to queue up in restaurants, bars, liquor shops, malls, and bet millions on cricket matches is still completely ignorant about the exhausted doctor. We can build everything else as development agenda, but India can not invest in doctors. It can have the most modern aeroplanes and bullet trains, but it cannot pay its doctors.

The young doctor is now rethinking. Many have chosen to change their preferences and not become a doctor. Most doctors do not want to push their brilliant children into this chasm called ‘medical practice in India’: a dark, exploiting, thankless, violent and vulnerable machinery to suck out the blood of the most brilliant minds of our generation. The most important part of becoming a doctor is to reduce suffering and save lives. No one, however rich, becomes a doctor with a mindset to earn out of the dying and suffering.

That very passion to save lives is being insulted, mocked, and widely abused by our great nation today. I will continue to write to my students, to the next generation doctors to please preserve this passion: that is the most beautiful part of your soul, and please do not let it be scarred by an unevolved, regressive and exploiting society that we live in. Take care of yourself. We have a mission to save lives, without thinking whether they deserve to be saved or not. We will shortly also devise strategies to end this exploitation.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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One Way Relationship: I Quit.


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Let’s face it. India is not a country where politeness, manners and etiquette is considered essential or important. In fact if you have these qualities, you are looked upon as weak. The more you accept it, the more crap is piled up upon your cell and mind. Politely saying “don’t message, don’t disturb” never works, and routine cases become emergency because no one is available when people have holidays. So a relative’s health may be completely ignored all week when everyone in the family is busy, and the doctors are then screwed on weekends, with expectations of compassion and sympathy, and with two chocolates “Will pay fees”, and “You are so kind”.

If there’s an emergency, visit the nearest doctor, take the patient to the hospital and admit. Don’t look for an excuse and escape to save time and money by exploiting a doctor who has entrusted you with his / her private number in good faith. They are far busier on holidays than on the working days.

Yes, a doctor is busiest on his holiday, having to attend to umpteen chores at home that are left undone during the weekdays. The weekend stress is extremely high. Family members expect some quality time and interaction too. Even simpler Personal tasks like a haircut, Cleaning home, vehicle, shopping for essentials and completing paperwork, banking, financial supervision etc. completely consumes the weekend of every working doctor. All this has now multiplied due to the pandemic, extra tasks have been added with higher risks. Add planning for upcoming meetings, catching up with academics, and incessant calls of those who think that the doctor will be “at leisure” on a holiday to attend to anything that pops up in their mind.

The irritation of not getting a holiday even on a holiday is unbearable. Be it family or friends, very few truly respect the necessity of some peace of mind for their doctors. Just because they get the doctor’s phone number, people feel it is an open access to their private time. I have even met VIP patients who requested my private number and then told me that their secretary will call me as they cannot disclose their personal numbers. Now I regret having given out my personal number to certain friends who incessantly send reports and ask consultation almost every weekend.

I quit this one way relationship. I may lose some friends and some patients, but it is worth the peace of mind I need to serve my deserving patients well.

Sincerely requesting my patients, friends and family members to NOT message/ call / email me on personal numbers or on social media, on Saturday and Sunday🙏🏻.
No exceptions.

Wishing everyone best health and a great life.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Indian Healthcare On A Ventilator and The Mask Matrix

Indian Healthcare On A Ventilator
and
The Mask Matrix

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Thousands of Indians, both rich and poor, are helping out each other during this pandemic. Many employers, from large companies to even lower middle class, are paying their employees for months now, without any income. While I am very proud of this humanity among the masses, there are some serious questions in my heart. Our lives cannot be just a matrix of dependence, help, sympathy and compassion as a society. That is still exploitation and abuse, although sometimes wilful on both sides.

Only 2-3 percent Indians pay income tax, and 60 percent of total income tax comes from only 4 percent of all taxpayers. That means, 95 percent of population DOES NOT pay tax, and the ones who do pay taxes are not only compensating for the poor, but also for the defaulters, many of whom may be escaping law. With the pandemic costing the national reserves far beyond repair, it does not take great intellect to anticipate heavier taxations, tighter finances for about a decade to come, and all that burden will af course be borne by the 3 percent taxpayers. Unless you know you are special. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

With one of the heaviest taxation, why should the nation still have to depend upon someone other than the governments / system to arrange for basics of life free of cost? People are dependent today on other compassionate people and NGOs, social groups for food, healthcare and other basics which the government should be providing them. More disturbing is the fact that when they don’t get these basic life facilities, the blame automatically shifts on those who have hard earned their affluence with education, hard work and talent: be it film stars, doctors, software companies, private hospitals or anyone who has some money: you are projected to be cold blooded and cruel rich who must either automatically shoulder the responsibility of millions of poor, helpless and unguided people, non tax-payers and everyone left out by the government, or you must face an audacious media, social trial for trying to appease the majority by criminalising your authentic, legal earnings.

Why has “HELP” become so crucial for our society today? When there are floods or accidents like the recent airplane crash, we take pride in sharing news of preventable sacrifices and write poetry about those who died because of an extremely poor infrastructure and maintainence. We glorify poor people who jump in to help, hiding important questions. Be it soldiers, pilots or doctors that we are losing every day, we miserably, idiotically dodge the basic human rights question: was it possible to prevent it? Was something wrong about the flood management, was something wrong with the airplane, was something missing in the healthcare that was earlier brought to the notice of the concerned but was ignored? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Instead, we choose to use the common masks to hide truth: patriotism, sympathy, compassion, donation, etc. Why could not so many richer politicians and ministers in India do for the migrant poor what some film stars graciously did? I will join the chorus in applauding those film stars, but the haunting question remains: why was the life of so many people dependant upon the compassion of a few film stars and NGOs? Why do NGOs and many others have to arrange donations to get sanitisers, masks etc. even for the police and the doctors?

News of goons fighting hospitals for inflated bills (in some cases indeed the bills are inflated), are exciting for the junta. One link is usually missing in such news: logic. Why doesn’t any of the self proclaimed, overaggressive, megalomaniac TV anchors or leaders enter any government hospital and ask questions directly to the responsible, like why there was no healthcare development in many decades there, why staff was always inadequate, why in the first place people should have to visit a private hospital which has a different financial ballgame and of course private investment. These TV anchors who speak as if they own the country and its population, act like they are above judiciary and replace reason with loud voice, are earning millions every month, why don’t they make a hospital for the poor in every town? In fact, it should be compulsory for every TV channel reporting medical news to donate all the earnings from ads during that news towards the treatment of poor patients. Every political leader should also take the responsibility of insuring health and life of every person in his / her constituency as a priority over bridges and flyovers, gardens and statues.

While everyone is making financial hey during the pandemic, doctors are made to pay in excess for all the masks, sanitisers and every other thing added to the routine by the pandemic, without any compensation. How can the private hospital escape these excess expenses? If at all the bills need to come down, let the government declare everything free: masks, sanitisers, remdesivir or tocilizumab, even the ventilators and electricity. At least strike off all taxes on these. While even the state governments are openly expressing inability to carry on without funds from central govt, how do you expect private entities like hospitals to run without charging patients? Even the hospitals should grow up now and give the patient three separate bills: one for hospital infrastructure and usables, second for doctors fees, and third for all the money that government has added to the bill: viz. taxes. If there is a request from any political strongman for reduction of bills, let the govt waive off the huge taxes part. Doctors fees are less than ten percent in all the bills, and they are the worst defamed ion all these news in spite of working so hard. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I feel very bad about the pilot who died while saving others, and naturally think if the airplane was indeed maintained well. I feel very bad also about the 175 + doctors who have died treating corona patients and think if they were adequately provided protection and isolation, treatment and compensation. Every day we are losing a precious healthcare asset and resource in the form of dead doctors.

We can of course shout slogans and bring in the topic of army again, crying aloud that if they can die, everyone must. The ridiculous part is that it is not the army men who usually say that, it is those who sit at home with some gadget, free internet access and a lot of time to write about everyone else, especially against the very taxpayer who pays for their internet and other facilities.

Only those who have paid their taxes should be allowed to opine politely about other professionals, and only after mentioning their own contribution to the country. Anyone who quotes the army as an example for others should be recruited in the army as per their caliber, and made to work free for three years, to help our brave soldiers.

Lastly, any sale of liquor, tobacco or any issue of driving license should be denied unless the person shows his / her own health insurance papers.

We should remove all these dangerous masks of sweet words we all love: compassion, sympathy, patriotism, bravery etc. used to hide the truth: we are financially most disorganised, almost bankrupt, and hiding behind these masks instead of being true patriots and facing the problem, while exploiting not only the taxpayer but also the never-acknowledged pride of our nation: Doctors.

Otherwise our dear country will always remain an exploitation hub, where few keep toiling and paying for many who do not work, and people sitting in tall places and high offices who earn too much while redistributing our national wealth. It doesn’t take a doctor always to tell this: our healthcare is on a ventilator.

Jai Hind!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Doctor 2025: What Happened After The Pandemic?

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The whole family was happily relishing desserts after a sumptuous dinner, when Mr. Shah suddenly went blank. His eyes rolled up, and he started having violent movements of his body. His daughter Amira shouted “Mom, call the emergency ambulance number” and tried to comfort her father who was now in a full blown convulsion, blood oozing from a corner of his mouth with froth.
The ambulance came with paramedics. Its driver handed Mrs. Shah a cellphone: “Please enter his Aadhar card and Insurance policy number, we will take care of everything” he said.

They collected a drop of blood, which would give all the necessary information about the patient. A video scanned the patient and recorded history and legal statements of the family members.
The sugar level was high.

“Was he given sweets? asked the paramedic.
“Yes” said Mrs. Shah.
“Did you take permission from the government? He is a diabetic, sweets are illegal” the paramedic said.
Amira pulled out a big pink note from her purse.
“Listen, please delete that video. Please take another clip, Mom doesn’t know, I will speak” she said. The attendant agreed. His salary had been halved since the pandemic.

They reached the nearest hospital in few minutes. The nurses hooked the patient with various tubes and told the relatives to wait in a counselling room. The patient appeared stable now. “This is really cool. India has made such great progress” Amira said to her sweating mother.

After a few minutes a Doctor on the TV screen greeted them, and explained them that Mr. Shah had developed bleeding in his brain. Interrupting the doctor, Mrs. Shah, sobbing, asked if her husband will be out of danger. Amira too, very anxious, asked many questions. The doctor replied very pleasantly “Just after this video call, you will see a video of all the likely things that can go wrong in your patient’s case. You will also be provided interactive links like a telephone menu, to ask any questions you want, the answers are scientifically standard. All treatment and billing is standardised”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

In a fit of anger, Amira loudly asked “But doctor, we want to see you and speak with you. When will you visit the patient?”.

Smiling, the doctor replied “Oh! Sorry, but we abolished that practice long ago. We don’t directly meet thee relatives now. For every patient, we give you the diagnosis and condition, all the information is made available on the internet, you can read for yourself.”

Mrs. Shah took out the Bramhastra “But we are paying your fees. You must answer and explain to us. You must be available for the patient all the time”.

The Doctor’s smile now became distant and curt.

“No madam. The law requires that I see the patient every day and treat him / her well, which I will continue. The insurance company and the hospital to whom you pay require me to visit the patient only once in 24 hours, which I will do. I am supposed to inform you, which I just did. You are paying the hospital and the insurance company for my services, from which they both cut some amount and pay me, you are not buying my time or me. You are free to request to change the doctor, or for a second opinion at an extra cost. The government has now made it mandatory to treat the patient at the hospital that they will decide, unless you are a special category. There is nothing like personal care now, everything is standardised by the ministry. We have a PRO who can assist you with searching all the information you need”.

Amira, wiser to the world, asked directly, in a cautious, lower pitch “Doc, what can we do to get your direct services? We can pay anything you want. We want you to personally see my father, make all the treatment decisions, and we also want to speak with you daily, in person. Do you have a private hospital? Please, I beg of you, have some compassion”.

The Doctor paused with a sad face, then said in a more personal tone “ I am sorry mam, all private healthcare has been abolished in India. . Many relatives attacked and injured doctors, most spoke in an abusive, rude manner, many wasted our precious time with illogical, repetitive and absurd questions. So the unnecessary was eliminated . During the pandemic of 2020, doctors were abused by our society so badly, that many died, many left either the profession or the country. Now the number of doctors is very low, We have a wild, abusive society that swings between begging for compassion and free treatment to violently attacking doctors. So all hospitals are now controlled by the government, and all doctors just follow the treatment recommendations set by the government. Even the brands and quality of medicines, stents, instruments for each patient are decided by the government, according to that patient’s category”

Mr. Shah’s condition was worsening day by day. Once every day, Amira received updates about her father via a lengthy SMS, with advertisements of big business houses, who had access to every data in the country. Nothing was private anymore.

Amira asked the PRO one day “What happens to the poor patients who don’t have money?”

The PRO smiled in disdain. “There are special insurance schemes and different stadium-hospitals for them. They have the same system, but low cost everything, including medical staff. Those who cannot afford even basic insurance are sent a CD of patriotic songs and motivating sermons. After the pandemic, this has emerged as the most cost effective way of healthcare.”

“What if I want to take my father outside India for treatment?” asked Amira, now fed up with all the robotic answers. All human touch in medicine was lost.

The PRO looked at her in awe. “Are you in Politics? Are you super-rich like celebrities? Because taking someone out of India for medical treatment is reserved only for them, or those who have special links”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Every morning, Amira and her mother went to a temple and prayed. One day, Amira asked the doctor: “Doctor, what if this was your father. Would you do the same?”

The doctor replied “Mam, My father died because I was posted in the pandemic ward. He was a high risk case but I did not get exemption. I think I am already doing far more for your father than I did for mine”.

On the fifth day, Mr Shah woke up. In a week’s time, he was scheduled for a discharge. Arguing about the hospital bills or complaining about the treatment with the insurance company or the government was now considered anti-national, so she carefully remained silent and paid all the bills, right from that for the first drop of blood collected at home and the ambulance. The pandemic tax and GST almost doubled every bill. Everything was authentic and standardised.

On the day of his discharge, a political leader came over, and a picture was taken with Mr. Shah. “Recovered due to the untiring efforts of the party and the government” said the newspaper the next morning.

On the way home, Mr. Shah told Amira “That doctor was fantastic. When will we see him again?”

Amira replied “I don’t know. The government will assign a doctor for you to follow up now”.

Mrs. Shah looking far away, said “At the temple every morning, I prayed for two things: for your health and for return of the good old days of personal relations with our doctors”.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Much of this is happening right now. This is the foreseeable unavoidable future.

Change The Medical Scene, India: Article One. Healthcare Failure In India: Problems And Solutions

1: Etiopathogenesis
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

This is my heartfelt attempt towards initiating a change in the Indian healthcare system. We all, even the government, wants it to improve but nobody seems to know where to start.

I appeal the younger generation of doctors to please think deeply about this article in terms of your future, unless you want to face the same humiliation, insecurity, inhuman attitudes, suppression and threats all your life, just because you are divided. I intend to offend no one, my non-Utopian aim is that every patient as well as every doctor should be happy, healthy and satisfied. There indeed are more good than bad doctors in India, but guess who dominates the scene.

In this series of articles I have tried to first identify the basic problems, and will propose probable answers in my later articles. Before we analyse outsiders, let us first take an honest look at ourselves.

Problems Within Medical Community:

  1. We have many class differences between doctors. This is the most prominent cause of non-unity of doctors. These class differences may be summarised as (a): Intellectual: some doctors are far more intelligent and skilful than others. (b): Cultural: some doctors know the best ways to behave and speak with patients, others have an arrogant, ill-mannered, abusive and sometimes filthy, inviting a bad reputation. (c): Academic/ Clinical: some doctors are trained at extremely good institutes, some put in gigantic self-study efforts, and therefore are academically and / or clinically better even if their medical degree is the same. (d): Financial: some need financial support and critical effort to survive through medical courses, fighting till in their thirties to settle down, while for some others, financially it’s a cakewalk.
  2. Shameful tendency amongst doctors, of discrimination based upon State, Caste, Region, Religion, Academic Institute, City, Financial Status or Political party, generating an “Insider-Outsider” culture. This has also resulted in many hospitals employing doctors from a particular religion or socio-cultural/ financial status even if better candidates are available. Few honourable exceptions.
  3. Jealousy, Insecurity and Envy: There are successful and struggling doctors in every branch. The shameful tendency of some established doctors to suppress and disallow juniors in their institutes is well known. Most wise institutes now employ two or more competing masters in every branch and fire up their egos against each other, to have them fight tooth and nails. Guess who profits and who bleeds. The comic tragedy is that even very brilliant doctors fall prey to such tactics. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.
  4. Financial desperation: Juniors who come from poorer backgrounds, in spite of better abilities, have no money to invest, make their own hospitals, and must work at bigger hospitals under such competing seniors, and the only way they are allowed to survive is by getting better numbers. This results in a very hostile, bitter work culture.
  5. Killing Humanity: The entire medical community is guilty of perpetually ignoring, intimidating, suppressing and blackmailing medical students, especially postgraduate resident doctors. India has probably the worst inhuman treatment for its budding and junior doctors, with no one interested in addressing their problems. They live in most pathetic conditions, often six in a single room. They are inhumanly overworked, with a shameless answer “We did it, now you do it” from their seniors. “No food and No sleep” is nothing to be proud of, it is Torture. Post graduate students and resident doctors are not only FORCED to work far beyond human capacity, they are overtasked with mindless curriculums. The “Slaves” in our history were far better off compared to how the resident doctors are treated today in India.
  6. Extremely low quality medical institutes: Guess who owns and runs these, still churning out valid degree holders.
  7. Nepotism: Where “Premium” students, often children of the powerful, politicians, administrators, doctors, socially prominent are treated differently, groomed specially and airlifted to success while others, however meritorious and efficient, are humiliated and suppressed. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.
  8. Master-Slave Culture: In every private or Corporate owned hospital, there is an unwritten rule: never cross the Master-Slave boundaries, never ask questions, you are here because we allow you to be. Should you dare to correct someone about policies, ethics, financial irregularities, excess profiteering, you are unceremoniously thrown out, given the title of a rebel, a troublemaker, and your reputation as a doctor is torn beyond redemption. This is the worst for surgeons than physicians, as ‘badmouthing’ / deliberate ill-reputing of a surgeon can ruin their entire career. Unfortunately, it is not only the hospitals, but different classes of doctors mentioned above participate in this mudslinging too. No institute in India has an honest troubleshooting department for doctors. There is no respite, there is no organisation, doctor’s body, government department that protects a doctor thrown out, defamed or harassed by corporates or big hospitals. Very few hospitals are doctor- friendly.
  9. Even in government service, sycophancy is the strictest tradition.
  10. The SP Syndrome: Shoelicking-Postholders are the worst tragedy in healthcare. Even after being qualified doctors, these ‘doctors’ have learnt the quick-ladder culture to sit in a medical administrative chair. They know which side to please, and are seldom seen working in the interest of either the doctors or the profession. They have but one agenda: strengthening their chair-bum glue. They are found almost everywhere in healthcare, and many enjoy the administrative superiority and control over better qualified and even senior doctors. There are rare honourable exceptions who try and balance the hospital and doctor’s sides. However, those involved in policy making are rarely in direct contact with the patients, have rarely had a reputation / experience of good medical practice, and are happy with hypothetical speeches sweetened for their powerful masters. Senior doctors have never stood up for an unfairly fired or colleague, and often our own community disowns a doctor harassed by healthcare giants or government. Thousands of excellent doctors have either left the country or live in dark anonymity just because there was no Godfather for them. This is a major cause of policy failures and pathetic research in Indian healthcare, inspite of having some of the best medical brains upon earth.
  11. The only thing that helps a good doctor is long-term goodwill generated over years, where patients spread a good word about their relief from that doctor. Against this is pitched the permission to hospitals for self-advertising, which often misleads the society.
  12. Once a doctor starts a hospital, there are so many taxes / overheads that he / she must shoulder, so much paperwork, that it is difficult to concentrate upon patients alone. Add innumerable laws, restrictions, rules that make it impossible to sustain over long term. Bribes are a stark reality wherever rules, restrictions are involved. This is why many doctors have closed down smaller hospitals.
  13. While doctors are only allowed to charge their (mostly) limited fees, almost everyone else in the profession earns a lot more profit, often unjust. From rooms, service, nursing, gloves, catheters, to procedures, from canteen to labs to radiology to pharmacy, the hospital and pharmas earn profits everywhere (this is acceptable in proportion of the investment). The one paid least in the final bill is the doctor / surgeon, who usually earns a piddly sum in spite of being the most important factor in the chain. The doctor is also primarily responsible medico-legally for every case. Patients are upset with the doctor even after saving their lives because the bill is fat, not knowing that most doctors have no say in hospital billings. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.
  14. The Corruption: There is no denying the fact that some doctors participate in various “unethical” means of earning via “commissions”. While all corruption is wrong, this is an extremely hot and debatable issue, where many questions are unanswered. For example, if a doctor owns a hospital and a lab and a pharmacy, he can profit under all three headings, but if a doctor working with him is also paid from this profit, it is presumed unethical. Our society is too financially biased, and it will never accept the necessity of profits in healthcare. However, the same society or its government has no answers to what a good ethical doctor should do if there are financial emergencies like this pandemic where his / her income is near nil. Hence the doctor is left to ensure his / her own income, with or without patients. Our society will preach doctors a lot of pompous lessons of ethics and compassion, but won’t feed the doctors family if he is in financial trouble due to all the good and free work he does. To completely eliminate “backdoor incomes”, the only way is that the doctor’s fees will shoot up.
  15. Over-smart Attention seekers: This community of doctors will do anything to garner attention. They will make news for being cheapest, they will construct new theories of individual, private research and blabber about them on national / state channels, massage the egos of power, speak against their own colleagues just to get praise from society and media and so much more. They hunt celebrities and powerful to be seen with, always speak the language of “Sweet, Beautiful, Positive” and imply from their wisely framed speech that only they can understand compassion and patient’s feelings while other doctors don’t. These are the usual early birds on TV, who criticise their own professional colleagues whenever there is violence against doctors, preaching about communication, making the society feel that ‘bashing up of junior doctors’ is justified, just because they could not communicate well. They will go to any unscientific extent to fool the public to be in good books of the government and administration, and completely vanish when their profession is suffering. This attention-seeking community has done the worst harm to medicos and the reputation of our noble profession.
  16. Doctor’s Organisations: “………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………” .

To Be Continued
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Sir, we are screwed. The Chief Minister and other ministers have closed all doors, they won’t respond. Our careers are in grave danger. Can you please help us?” I frantically spoke.
From the other end of the phone, the Don, Dr. Nitu Mandke answered: “See me at my home at 12 midnight”.
The Maharashtra state resident doctor’s agitation for dignity, national pay parity and better living conditions was on, and I was given the responsibility of coordinating and being the face. We had successfully established a multilevel network.
When students go on a strike anywhere in any field, it is almost always out of desperation, either for dignity or for rebellion against some sort of suppression by the system. Students never rebel for money or power. This raw student power is almost as mighty as the army, and although it falls prey to political misuse sometimes, it has tremendous capacity towards achieving intellectual evolution of the society. The government always treats any unrest as an offence to its ego, and uses everything at its disposal: CID, Police, Administration, Force, Threats, Caste Politics, Cheating and Legal torture to mow down student agitations. Students have no money, no experience and rare political or social backing, and must unite and stand up for themselves. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

On the fourth day of the strike, a big politico from the ruling alliance came over to our office at Mumbai KEM. There was no telling between him and a mafia goon. The members of student’s central committee: Dr. Sanjay Singh, Dr. Dinesh Kabra, Dr. Narender Sheshadri, Dr. Pramod Giri, Dr. Nilesh Nikam, Dr. Kuldeep, Dr. Vishal Sawant, Dr. Noor, Dr. Shahid, and few others were with me. The politico did not have any scruples using an arrogant, raw and filthy language to threaten that if we do not stop and withdraw the strike, our careers and even life will be in danger. As he was from the ruling party and threatened us in presence of the police, there was nothing we could say.
There are angels everywhere. A senior police officer who was supposed to “keep a constant watch” upon us ‘student leaders’ was quite fatherly. He told us “Do what you must, but don’t declare. Dumb people cannot interpret silence. Stay away from any violence”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Unknown calls kept threats alive. That is when a resident doctor suggested we meet the Don: Dr. Nitu Mandke, the famous heart surgeon who was known to be a fearless, straightforward celebrity doctor.

We went to his home, and waited, hosted by his extremely courteous family. He returned home past midnight. We briefed him the details. He asked a few questions to assess our determination and strength. He asked us to stay united and avoid any misbehaviour during the agitation. To our surprise, he picked up the cellphone and called the Chief Minister’s PA. The CM was fortunately available, and talked to Dr. Mandke. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

After the call, Dr. Mandke told us: “CM has advised us to meet the Deputy CM tomorrow. Two of you come to Lilavati Hospital tomorrow at 2 PM. I will take you to the DyCM.”.
At Lilavati hospital, Dr. Mandke’s chamber was intimidatingly clean and posh, yet simple. He checked our applications for the CM and corrected them with his beautiful pen. His briefcase had every essential of writing stationary, the mark of a perfect man.

As we waited, I asked him cautiously: “Sir, shall we start?” He replied that he was waiting for someone to carry the bag on his table. I offered that I will carry it. He laughed his thunderous laugh, and looked at us as if we were small puppies. “ Deshpandyaa, that bag has two and a half crore rupees cash for construction of my hospital. A professional bodyguard will carry it. People kill for that. Do you want to carry it?”. I shut up.

In his big car, for the 45 minutes that his bodyguard drove us to the DyCM, I asked Dr. Nitu Mandke questions about what was going through his mind when he was actually operating the Shiv Sena Supremo Mr. Balasaheb Thackeray. Such an enormous pressure it must have been!
“Oh yes, it was stressful. But he is a gentleman, and he had assured my safety. His word is enough”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

That’s when we told him how some politicos had threatened us recently. He laughed and replied something that has been tattooed upon my cortex permanently:
“Rajas, a doctor is a doctor and king of lives forever. Politicos come and go. Idiots misbehave with others when the have any post or power, in any field. You should not budge. It is pathetic to see doctors licking shoes of those in power, under various pretexts. It is up to you to maintain your dignity and pride. That is the true luxury, everyone cannot afford it. So long as you do the right thing, fear nothing. The few crores in that bag is nothing compared to how I feel about myself”.

We entered the VIP zone and bungalow. His car was not stopped anywhere. The DyCM offered us tea, and gave us a patient listening.
“These junior doctors and students are my boys, our own boys, they will look after the health of our people tomorrow. You must help them” Dr. Mandke insisted. The DyCM assured he will. The spell was broken, talks resumed.
Many twists and turns later, one of the most memorable strikes was called off.

A year later, I saw a white Lexus car in our KEM campus at Mumbai. Fond of cars and having never touched a Lexus, I went to see it from a close distance. Just as I tried to touch it, the driver’s window rolled down, and I heard “Deshpandyaa, open the door and come in. Do you like my new car?”
And I sat besides the King of proud men, one of the most proficient Cardiac Surgeons, Dr. Nitu Mandke, in his Lexus. The feeling is unforgettable, not only for the Lexus, but for his simplicity, love and affection for a ‘nobody’, a junior doctor like myself!

Needless to say, then onwards, I have guarded my dignity and pride as a doctor more than any other possession I have. That took away many opportunities and huge finances, still I am doing quite well by God’s grace, and Dr. Mandke’s blessings.
How I feel about myself is more precious than anything I can earn. The luxury of pride is mine.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Dedicated to all students, resident doctors, proud people in every field, student unions and their apolitical fearless leaders.
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The Dictators in Hospital © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Let my father die. It’s ok. I will not take him anywhere. I don’t want anyone else to treat him” said the 60 year old son loudly. His old father who could listen and understand the conversation, but could not speak or move due to a paralysis, just closed eyes. Tears emerged from the corners of those closed eyes.

Like most doctors nowadays I have learned to master personal opinions and emotional responses, especially with ill-behaved patients, but this was beyond me. Not because he had shouted at me, but because he had just stabbed his father’s heart. Loudly, so that the patient could hear, I said “I think your father should feel better soon, let us see what we can do”. Then I gestured the angry son to see me out of the room. Two other men accompanying him came out and towered upon me.

About five days prior, this son had come to me with his father’s reports. The patient was admitted at a rural hospital. He had severely compromised heart function and his heart rhythm was abnormal. This caused formation of many blood clots in the heart, which went to the brain blocking blood vessels. One such large blockage had caused paralysis and inability to speak. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I had asked the son not to shift the patient, as the treatment started by the rural physician was accurate, we had to just wait and watch. Still, they had brought the patient in an ambulance, travelling for over 4 hours. Naturally, the patient had worsened , becoming drowsy. His heart rhythm was dangerously worse. He was unable to swallow, there was a big risk of his saliva/ mouth secretions going to his windpipe blocking his breathing.

Whenever a patient has problems out of a specialist’s expertise area, it is mandatory that an opinion of the concerned specialty expert be obtained. I asked the best heart specialist I knew to see the patient, and also a small ENT test to see if we could initiate training for swallowing. Our physiotherapists were already working upon his hands and legs gently.

However, the son (a retired govt. officer from a very respectable post) and two others attending the patient created a big scene when my junior doctor visited the patient. They started shouting and cursing that by calling other specialists we were just “increasing the bills”, and that they did not want anyone else except me to see the patient, not even the junior doctors. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

My assistant physician called me in panic and updated about this, asking me to immediately act to deescalate the situation. Although there were many patients waiting to be attended in OPD, I had gone to this patient’s room. I explained to them that the patient needs to be seen by a heart specialist too, as his heart condition was very delicate. I also offered them to choose any specialist or hospital they wanted, if they were unhappy here, but they could not waste time as the patient was critical. That’s when the son shouted that he would rather let his father die than be seen by any other specialist.

When they came out of the room, their body language and general disposition suggested aggression. I tried to politely reason with the son that any specialist cannot sit with the patient 24/7, that junior doctors and other specialists as required will have to be called in for the best care, but they declined. The efforts of our medical superintendent and best patient coordinator went in vain. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“We will not allow anyone except Dr. Deshpande in the room. Our patient must get better” the son said loudly.

“I will see him till he is under my care, but I cannot guarantee any outcomes” I told them. “Let’s see” he said. He did sign the document informing about criticality of the patient.

No doctor should treat patient under pressure, duress or threat in the interest of the patient. I went to our medical director and requested that the patient be transferred under some other specialist. The hospital offered them freedom to choose, but the relatives declined. “We have come here for Dr. Deshpande, he will have to treat the patient alone” the son said. The hospital decided to take a call next day after a meeting.

That evening as I finished the OPD, I wondered how the patient was. However much angry I may have been with the relatives, the patient was more important than my anger, pride or anything else. I went to their room and checked the patient. He opened eyes and smiled. I asked him his name, and he replied in a husky tone. He was speaking now!!

The next day again, the relatives refused to transfer the patient under someone else, and I kept the treatment on. The trustless atmosphere was quite volatile, and if something had gone wrong, things would have taken an ugly turn. In the next three days, the patient spoke well, and even accepted some sips of water. His hand and leg started moving too.

“Can we take him home now?” the relative asked on the fourth day.

Happy for many reasons, but mainly the fact that the patient had improved, I discharged the patient. I had learnt my lessons. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Adamant, unreasonable and illogical demands by patient’s relatives jeopardising the patient’s life is a huge medical problem in India. Illiteracy, political interference, goonda culture and media support make such horror stories a routine reality. The law still expects the best patience and non-reacting approach of medical personnel, with the onus of saving lives still upon them under this pressure. Innumerable instances of harassment and humiliation of nursing staff, especially women go unreported. Relatives, especially politically connected, behave like dictators in any hospital, threatening one and all. Unless this culture ends and doctors are at a freedom to do their best for every patient, medical care in India will always remain inaccurate, incomplete and purely financially guided rather than scientific or even legal. Doctors can actually file a complaint or take legal action in such cases, but they are too many, and no doctor has time for such legal courses. In the best interest of our patients’ lives we go on forgiving and tolerating such abuse. Because neither law nor administration wants to correct the causative factors effectively.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Neurologist Mumbai/ Pune

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Robodoc

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“The doctor wasn’t even replying. He didn’t answer my questions” the patient, an angry lady, told me about one of my colleagues. The patient’s husband sat besides her, expressionless.

I reviewed her case in detail. She had had varying complaints for over four years, mostly severe pain at various points on her body. When a patient has symptoms (complaints) grossly disproportionate to the signs (doctor’s findings), there always is a suspicion of ‘exaggeration’ or ‘lying’. This can happen involuntarily due to stress, depression or anxiety, or voluntarily usually for seeking attention. She had seen many specialists, and had received strong doses of almost all types of pain killers and other pain control medicines, still her response after every course was ‘zero relief’. That was definitely suspicious. I looked at her husband. He appeared tired and aloof, reluctant to participate in any discussion. I had to make him talk.

“Is she stressed? Have you noticed any change in her personality?” I asked them the question that usually opens the dreaded can of worms.

“I am fed up, doctor” said the husband, “She needs continuous attention. Since our marriage four years ago there’s never been a month when we did not visit a hospital. All doctors tell her to go to a psychiatrist, but she refuses. The moment I return from office she starts complaining about her health. I don’t know what to do now, I feel I am better out of my own home” he avoided looking at her.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

His wife started crying, and in a shrill voice, shouted at me “Why are you speaking with him, doc? I am your patient, speak to me. No one believes me. I am suffering so much!”

I assured her that I was going to help her sort out the issue. Once she calmed down, I was able to explain to her the way stress affects human mind and body, and that it was possible to get well soon. I told her that being stressed was not a “psychiatric illness” but an overworked, burdened state of mind that needs attention, and that it can often be cured by speaking with the right person. She asked me many questions. As a special case, I made an effort to reply to each one of them, even the irrelevant ones, sometimes repeatedly. She agreed to visit an excellent counsellor colleague of mine. She drastically improved in a month after the counsellor worked upon her. However, she came back with new complaints within two months. She visited me twice more, and each time cried a lot, then when I pacified her, asked the same long list of questions mixed with new ones.

My sympathy and compassion started waning. I have promised myself never to be rude to any patient ever, and I religiously follow that. Yet my patience was wavering now.

The more compassionate, patient, sympathetic a doctor becomes towards the patient and their family, the more it is taken for granted and misused. The doctor is then expected to be an unending source of “psychological support”, mentoring and motivating, and a punching bag or a cry-to teddy bear. While in a healthy doctor-patient relationship this compassionate attitude is natural and welcome, many doctors do not know when it starts growing upon them and stressing them out. It is not easy to listen to a continuous flow of medical symptomatology especially wrapped in negative emotions. While positive outcomes do bring back life into a doctor’s motivation to do better and more, this expectation to be a listener of all sorrows until the storyteller is satisfied is unnatural and impractical. It tells upon the doctor’s health. This is now happening in almost all specialties, and wise doctors are learning to separate patients into “whimpering, chronically-dissatisfied-with-everything storytellers” versus patients with genuine medical, surgical and psychiatric issues. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

To concentrate upon what can be corrected, to treat what is possible should be the right priority, and here’s where a doctor’s compassion, sympathy and patience are best employed. To expect a doctor to resolve issues like ‘Swabhav’ (inherent nature) of a human being is wrong. A doctor also cannot solve the root causes of stress like poverty, unemployment, interpersonal incompatibility, overambitious, over-expectant personality or attention seeking. Many patients and families expect the doctor to resolve ‘every minor issue’ related to ageing, refusing to accept that resuming complete normalcy of health is impossible after a certain age, especially with some medical conditions. Doctors can guide patients, but cannot accompany the patient and family to fine tune every minor issue.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

Few paranoid, suspicious, accusative, aggressive patients and the types mentioned above have now made it necessary for the doctor to be extremely aware and alert, cautious, and to some extent emotionally aloof from the patient at least in the initial phase. Every word has to be spoken with caution. This “Robotic Doctor” or “Robodoc” is actually becoming a sad reality in the Western world where every medical consultation is considered a potential chance of litigation. A careful doctor avoids getting trapped into emotional exploitation. While this may upset some patients, much of the educated class is still happy with a proper professional consultation, diagnosis and treatment rather than only a compassionate sweet talk. Given the Indian scenario where patients are driven emotionally rather than scientifically especially in the illiterate and financially challenged echelons, a doctor needs to be better equipped for avoiding misuse of his / her compassion and sympathy, as it also converts readily into a permanent source of rewardless stress. This is unhealthy for doctors.

This is one reason ‘Robodocs’ are on a rise. A sad truth about an essential evolution in the medical profession across the world. The only thing that can change this is individualising patient care.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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The Doctor Who Took Fees: One Star Review”

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

False reviews and online beratings against doctors and hospitals have become a reality. However much a doctor goes out of the way to do the best for his/ her patient, following are the reasons why negative reviews are still uploaded, some of them ridiculous:

1. Denial of false certification.

2. Recording truth on paper like addiction (smoking, alcohol, ghutka, sleep medicines etc.).

3. Mentioning preexisting illnesses which the patient / family had hidden from the insurance companies.

4. Denial to falsify diagnosis, treatment and inflating bills to claim medical insurance benefits.

5. Denial to give concessions in standard billing, consultation, visit fees.

6. Advising necessary investigations.

7. Charging for follow up visits (different doctors, specialties and hospitals have different policies, all are usually mentioned in the information prior to consultation. All follow-ups are not same). © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

8.. Waiting time: This is the saddest in India. The standard waiting times for specialists all over the world range from 30-90 minutes, sometimes longer, but it is only the Indian patients who convert this into a complaint. Sometimes earlier patients may have taken more time, asked more questions, sometimes patients cry when a sad diagnosis is conveyed, one cannot ask them to leave the room, there are incessant calls for emergencies etc. . The same traffic and weather conditions affect a doctor’s schedule too, but some are unforgiving. The fact that Indian doctors are available on usually the same day or mostly a week in spite of a heavy workload means nothing to our people, even those who have visited the Western world and witnessed that it takes months to years to get a specialist’s appointment there.

9. Behaviour of the doctor: Agreed that some doctors are indeed rude, some are in a hurry, and that is wrong. But usually doctors develop a lot of patience as they mature, dealing with all sorts of negativity continuously. Sometimes patients do offend doctors by asking illogical questions repeatedly, by challenging every word that the doctor says, or by making illogical demands. These demands include repeating long explanations about the diagnosis and treatment, requests to speak on phone with a distant relative to re-explain everything because they are too busy to come over, asking questions like “Are these medicines necessary?” etc. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

10. Unfair, illogical statements “I cannot tolerate any allopathic medicine” rules this section. What do you expect a physician to do?

11. Unfair, unrealistic expectations: Every drug has side effects, including vitamins, and these side effects are NOT the doctor’s fault. The doctor can alert the patient about common side effects, but cannot explain all side effects of every medicine, as it is impractical. Secondly, while some medicines act within seconds, some take effect over weeks to months. Those without patience who expect relief within few hours / one day usually upload angry reviews about both “no effect” and side effect” commonly.

12. Declining demands for admission. Investigations and OPD treatments are not covered by most insurance companies, so some patients demand admission even when not indicated. When refused, even if the patient was cured, the doctor still gets a negative review.

13. Google masters: Some patients bring a lot of irrelevant questions and conceptually wrong use of medical terms to the doctor’s table, and however politely one declines to waste time over such, a negative review is almost guaranteed. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

14. Habitual negative reviewers: I once found a negative review of a patient who had actually responded well to treatment and was cured. He had complained about having to pay for a follow up visit after few weeks. A small google search revealed that he had uploaded many reviews from those about railway stations to collector’s office, from autorickshaws to five star hotels, almost all negative. Unhappy man!

12. Professional Competitors- this is a new reality: doctors hiring agencies to boost their positive reviews and add negative reviews to their competition. The simple fact check of how many positive reviews over how much time reveals the truth.

Some negative reviews are indeed genuine, I have had them myself, and called and apologised to the patient, clarified my stand too. However when they were malicious, I have informed the concerned site manager and also posted a reply about reality.

How to know?

A negative review must have a legitimate name of the person writing it, and details of date and time of the visit. That way the doctor can also confirm whether it is genuine and help resolve it. A nameless review is always questionable, good or bad.

In a recent news, a National restaurant association has decided to sue people who upload negative reviews about food: just because they want more or free, just because of their mindset is negative, just because they are insatiable. Even IMA should consider suing people who upload wrong, defamatory, spiteful reviews about doctors. Even the ‘hired good reviews’ by doctors should be discouraged.

Issued in the best interests of patients and doctors.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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