Tag Archives: doctor’s fees

The Good News: ‘Life Is In Brains’

Last three years we were planning a beautiful, comprehensive and patient friendly, “All under one roof” Neuroscience set-up at Ruby Hall Clinic.

Specialty Clinics for Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Epilepsy, Vertigo, Stroke, Brain Tumors, and all neurological investigations will be available here, on this floor. Also Neuropsychology, Speech Therapy and Counsellor for family members dealing with difficult illnesses.

My dynamic CEO Mr. Bomi Bhote has long dreamt of a world-class Neuroscience department at Ruby Hall.
“Give our society something to remember you for” he said often. I have tried my best to design this fully new Superspecality Neuroscience Department. After many meetings and many precious inputs from Dr. Purvez Grant, Dr. Manisha Karmarkar (COO), and Dr. Rebecca John, and the blessings of senior Doctors like Dr. Ravi Gulati, MD Dr. Sanjay Pathare we added one stop troubleshooting and convenience so that patients do not have to roam around.

Mr. Iqbal Chaney, Dr. Abhijit Rokade, Mr. Shailesh Kelkar, Mr. Avro Chatterjee, Mrs. Nilofer Shaikh, Mr. Tushar Patil, Ms. Ansha and so many others contributed to the efficient beauty of this set-up.

One item on the top of my bucket list thus ticked off: giving Pune, Maharashtra and India a Neuroscience Department to bank upon. This is just the beginning.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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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“It seems this hospital is distributing death to the patients”

“Aisa Lag Raha Hai Ki Ye Hospital Marijon Ko Maut Baant Raha Hai”

A leading and brilliant Indian TV anchor has framed this sentence. There are over a million deaths all over the world, covid hospitals are burdened up with dead bodies in almost all countries, and the whole medical fraternity is on the frontline, all Indian hospitals have cooperated with whatever demands were made by the government. Still, the news anchor obviously implies that the hospital is ‘handing out’ death in such cases.

It is NOT the doctor’s duty to shift patients and dead bodies, still they are doing this wherever there’s no staff. But if you expect that the docs leave critical patients to die and please the TV cameras, it will never happen, our ethics are supreme.

He didn’t say that:

:Virus is distributing death
:Those responsible for inadequate healthcare are distributing death
Or
:Irresponsible people who don’t follow rules are distributing death

He just blamed the hospital like a Judge.
Media Judge.

We have few questions:
Why didn’t the journalist/ reporter who was shooting this case and crying that the patient didn’t have enough clothes give this patient his own clothes?
Why didn’t he shift the patient to other hospital which had beds?
Did the reporter take written consent from the patient to shoot him naked?
Did the reporter call helpline to attend this patient? What was the government’s response?

And lastly, is this happening only in certain states?

Please stop making TRP business out of dying patients. Why aren’t administrators stopping the interference with healthcare in hospital?

हॉस्पिटल मरीजो को मौत नहीं बांट रहा, कोरोना मौत बांट रहा है, और आप जैसे रिपोर्टर उस मौत का तमाशा बनाकर पैसे कमा रहे हो. सवाल उनसे किजिये जो इन हालात के लिये जिम्मेदार हैं. डॉक्टर और हॉस्पिटल्स अपना अपना काम कर रहे हैं. आदरणीय प्रधानमंत्री की सूचना का आप भी पालन किजीये, और कोरोना योद्धाओं के खिलाफ़ जहर फैलाना बंद किजीये.

(No hospital is distributing deaths, but corona virus is, and people like you are making money by exploiting their deaths for earning money by dramatising everything. If you dare, ask questions to the right people. Doctors and hospitals are working to full capacity to serve patients and the nation. You must first learn to respect the words of Hon’ble PM, and not spread lies against medical frontline warriors.)

Stop your poisonous blah.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The Last Bullet For Indian Private Healthcare


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Many doctors, nurses and other staff, police officers are dying due to corona exposure. Recently the quarantine period of doctors was cancelled. To add to this, very ridiculously, doctors’ salaries were reduced, and covid funds were deducted from even frontline warriors’ salary. This is like taking money from a soldier’s paycheck to fund the army!!

When I recently heard some people shouting about excess bills in hospitals, doctors not working etc., I felt like shouting back too, but one cannot argue with a sold TV screen.

For decades India has had
Excess urban crowding,
Very poor hygiene.
Very high poverty and illiteracy.
Lack of town-planning for slums.
Severe lack of state/ national healthcare infrastructure.
Tiniest budget for healthcare.
Perpetually under-functioning government hospitals. Every season hundreds die due to epidemics.

Where were you till before the pandemic? Who is responsible for all of the above? Do you want to discuss these factors which are responsible for the pandemic chaos today? Or now you just blame it all upon Doctors and Private hospitals?© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Only private doctors with small nursing homes and dispensaries, clinics were shouldering all healthcare needs that government hospitals could not provide. They had low profits and catered to middle and lower class. These were destroyed in last few years because of too many stringent regulations and costly licensing. Many closed down. Legal troubles by relatives, politicos supporting them and vandalising hospitals forced many private doctors to stop admitting patients. Protection to doctors was denied by almost all governments till before this pandemic.

Indian poverty is never ending, and charity cannot run anything perpetually unless there’s a strong fund generating mechanism supporting it. If someone expects that doctors charging 2 rupees fees are the ideal healthcare for all our medical needs, they should happily go to such a doctor. We highly respect them too, but it is their choice and there are obvious limitations to that. To develop advanced healthcare in India, higher profits were necessary for higher investment. Corporates, some businessmen and the likes of Mr. Ambani pitched in. Advanced healthcare with heart and liver transplants, complicated brain surgeries, cancer treatments came to India because of these investors. They accepted all the conditions of governments to accommodate over twenty percent poor, nonpaying patients via various schemes. The payments for running these schemes were delayed by various govts for years, and the hospitals were arm-twisted in still continuing to treat everyone. The only source of profits was private and some insurance patients who were paying a higher fees for facilities: from air-conditioning, food to choice of specialists. Higher quality of staff, especially nursing and technicians who can operate high end machinery and robotics requires very high salaries. Maintenance costs are heavy. A specialist cannot do much without such a very good team. Each of these requires good if not great salaries, as they are continuously invited by developed countries who pay far higher.

But then every patient wants the highest facilities, best staff and specialist team, with no payment or basic payment. There’s no concept of billing beyond actual price of medicines and room charges. Service and maintenance is considered a ‘free right’. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Even in this modern era of equality, a higher class Indian officer like a minister gets a higher room, better food and other facilities, even higher medical bill sanctions, whereas the labourer from his department gets minimum basic facilities and bill eligibility only for general ward. Law allows higher healthcare’s standards and payments for higher officials. Why do they even have classes in railways and airplanes? If a “Gareeb bechara” migrant wants to fly home, should we offer him road transport or compassionate air travel? Why don’t we do for all the poor something that you all expect doctors and hospitals to do?

We don’t mind if basic and emergency healthcare is uniformly cheap or free for everyone. But when you force a high-end medical commodity (skill-time-investment-staff) to be sold at a loss or extremely marginal profit, you kill the system.

Doctors do not differentiate when making a diagnosis or treating anyone from any financial/ power background. But the private hospitals must be allowed to cater to different classes, earning their profits. That is their only stimulus to grow forward, engage best personnel and bring advanced healthcare to India. Different governments have failed at maintaining high standards of healthcare in their respective set-ups (with some proud exceptions- but because that’s where our powerful go). Some hospitals indeed take more bills for better class of services, including staff, but none of them forces a patient to come to them. Even these hospitals never deny free emergency treatment to anyone.

“But isn’t healthcare a charity? Haven’t you taken oaths to serve?” our loudmouth hypocrites ask.

Yes we have taken an oath to serve everyone rich and poor equally, but no, we have not taken any oath to neglect our own health and well being. Yes we have taken an oath to serve, but we have not taken any oath to live in perpetual poverty and financial stress. Yes we are under an oath to do our best for every patient, but we will not be bending backwards to fulfil their unreasonable demands. Yes we want to save every life, even if it is dangerous , but we will not unnecessarily endanger our own life because someone forces us. We haven’t taken an oath to abandon our families. The Hippocratic oath does not ask any doctor to stay hungry, work without sleep, and do the unscientific because various governments cannot pay for adequate number of doctors. Still we are doing all this already. Let us be clear: we proudly and intellectually serve our country, but we refuse to be considered slaves of either the system or the society. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Capping bills in private hospitals will be the last bullet for all advances in healthcare development in India. Be prepared to go back to the chaos of ancient times in that case. Quality will suffer most: right from specialists to nurses to medicines. You can of course force one generation of doctors to work like this, under low cost and excess work. People aren’t fools to send their children to such hells of social slavery. Yes you read that right. There’s a difference between service and slavery. Do not attempt to turn medical service providers into slaves. It will backfire very sourly.

Instead of this, the government can invest in existing private healthcare players to create low cost infrastructure alongside their private hospitals, or privatising its own healthcare institutions with increased capacity. Our governments do have friends in very high places who can invest.

We love India. We are not against any particular government, and this post is not against any leader or party. But we do feel very strongly that healthcare decisions must be made involving everyone concerned, that this people-pleasing for short term will turn out to be a huge disaster in long run, and it will be irreversible. If any government thinks that cancelling hospital permits and doctors’ licences in a country with severe shortage of medical services is the right way forward, God help it.

If private and corporate hospitals start shutting down now, it will be permanent. India will then have to mostly rely upon prayers alone for healthcare. And of course those who think they know medical science more than doctors. India has no dearth of such “fatally self-medicating” ignoramuses.

Jai Hind

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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An Interview With a Neurology Legend

An Interview With a Neurology Legend

Dr. Satish Khadilkar

MD, DM, DNBE, FIAN, FICP, FAMS, FRCP (London)

Dean and Professor and Head, Department of Neurology,

Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences, Mumbai.

He is a living legend, one of the best neurologists anywhere, a stunning example of what an ideal doctor should be like.

He needs no introduction to those in the medical world: he has carved his golden name in global neurosciences with his passion for Neurology and especially NeuroMuscular diseases, pioneering this specialty in India. I am grateful to Dr. Satish Khadilkar for agreeing to guide us all.

Q: How does it feel at the top?

A: Grateful to life!

In the health pyramid, ‘top’ really means ‘more useful’! And there are at least three parts to being useful: providing service, teaching and conducting research. Indeed, I am grateful to life for having provided me with the opportunities to be useful to colleagues and disease sufferers in all the three spheres.

Q: What are the most essential qualities that a doctor must possess?

A: As mentioned above; service, teaching and research are the three main pillars of medical careers. Each of these requires different virtues. Service requires patience, availability, affordability and the capacity to empathize with the sufferers. Teaching requires clarity of ideas and the ability to be inspirational to the new entrants and younger colleagues. And research requires an analytical mind to understand questions, be unbiased to design experiments in search of the answer.

Depending upon which field you choose, relevant qualities will need to be enhanced. In my mind now, as I have gone on, service has emerged as the noblest frontier for the medicine man. So the essential qualities are compassion, knowledge and the desire to help.

Q: What do you suggest we do to improve the clinical sense among newer generations of doctors?

A: Simple answer: bedside clinics by masters of clinical medicine and shadowing them to see how they utilize the limited resources.

Q: How do you deal with the ever widening knowledgebase while effectively practising as one of the busiest practitioners in the country?

A: Knowledge is of two types, one to know it yourself and the other, to know where to find it! In the present times; we have moved on to the second mode. The great thing about this era is that knowledge is freely available. We only need to develop the ability to design the search to get rapid answers to our questions. There are courses available to this effect.

While this is true for problem-based daily issues, in one’s own area of interest, one has to acquire all the manuscripts and threadbare them, assimilate them and understand them, for deeper knowledge.

Q: How do you handle the incessant negativity which doctors face while dealing with so many incurable conditions and gradually deteriorating patients?

A: Negativity in the doctor’s mind stems from the perceived personal inability to help or to provide solutions. Doctors need to appreciate that their role is limited to being knowledgeable helpers. If we keep in mind the inadequacies of medicine as a science and our restricted role, negativity is less likely to take roots.

Q: What is your take on making holidays, vacation compulsory for doctors to overcome stress?

A: Personally, I do not see the need to take holidays, as my daily work itself is a never ending holiday! I do not remember taking a holiday in last three decades. The better you gel with your work, less it stresses you and less is the need to break.

Having said that, as our work relates to human life, we have to make sure that we take adequate rest and are “on the top of our game” for the hours that we work, as our shortcomings can have consequences.

Q: What advice will you give about handling family responsibilities and duties to the new generation doctors?

A: Human relationships take very long to build and only one indiscretion is enough to undo these. So, in relationships and family, equal attention needs to be given, as you would in your profession. In today’s competitive India, we tend to take the family granted and actually end up doing the least for those who matter most!

It is best to think of this early on while planning the professional career.

Q: What best can be done to stop the exodus of doctors from India?

A: Talented Indian doctors need to be appreciated by the society and the health system in India. System needs to be more humane and responsive to the doctors’ needs. Doctors also need to understand the process of medicine, its goals, trials and tribulations. Till this happens, we shall see movement to greener pastures, where this process has evolved better.

Q: Your guiding thoughts for future Indian Doctors?

A: Let us all remember that we are in medicine to help suffering people. That is the core of medicine. We are healers and scientists. If we don’t veer from this ideal and have patience, all material wants and requirements will automatically fall in place. So to understand medicine, one must never forget that this is the noblest of all professions. I have chosen its nobility as a guiding principle for myself. I found my solace in drowning myself deep in the vast oceans of knowledge about neuromuscular disorders and using it in the service of suffering multitudes.

©️Dr. Satish Khadilkar & Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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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