Hospital authorities closely observing the modus operandi of suspects

The recent trend of patients getting discharged suddenly against medical advice in the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) here signals a doctor-broker nexus. This suspicion grew stronger after five “middlemen” were arrested from the hospital premises last week when they were shifting some patients to private hospitals and nursing homes.

Official sources say that the patient discharge register in many departments showed that at least three patients in each ward insisted that the doctors should discharge them. The discharge of such cases was marked “against medical advice” in the register.

Hospital authorities have closely observed the modus operandi of the suspects who are on daily rounds in the GRH to take away patients. The brokers who pose themselves as attendants and relatives of patients try to lure patients by saying that the treatment in the Government Hospital is not good.

Clues are being gathered to find out whether some GRH doctors are involved in “shifting” of patients to private hospitals with whom they have “links.”

On any given day, the hospital will be flooded with thousands of people as it is the premier tertiary healthcare institution for the Southern districts.

A senior orthopaedic surgeon had confirmed that ward 99 had become a casualty as some doctors were found to have “links” with brokers and middlemen who would convince patients to move to private hospitals.

N.Mohan, Dean, GRH, told The Hindu on Sunday that there was reliable information that 12 more brokers were on the prowl inside the hospital and they would be caught very soon with the help of the police.

“We have already made a representation to Police Commissioner Sanjay Mathur, and District Collector Anshul Mishra too is informed of this. There are women touts in maternity and paediatric wards,” he added.

Dr.Mohan said there were three categories of patients — those who were discharged by the hospital, those who requested for discharge and those falling in the third category got discharged against medical advice. In some cases, patients absconded from the hospital, he said.

“More women police have to be deployed in the hospital. I have deputed a few hospital employees for surveillance. But, better action could be taken only by the police as they can easily identify the suspects,” he said.

Dr.Mohan assured that he would introduce a ‘patient discharge audit’ system to look into every discharge seriously. Fifteen CCTVs would be installed at “vulnerable places” in the hospital such as casualty ward, maternity/paediatric ward, post-natal unit and operation theatres.

A senior professor of Madurai Medical College said there were a couple of brokers “closely attached” to some doctors and they had been paid “commission.”

“Even though I may not be able to state which doctor is involved in such an act , my team has started watching the discharge register closely. Brokers will make patients say various reasons for seeking discharge from the GRH and it is only a sting operation that will expose the deals,” he said. Hospital authorities are waiting for the five brokers who have been remanded to spill the beans.

Senior surgeons want the police and the district administration to rope in a Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) team. “Our hospital became the epicentre for touts. The DVAC should swing into action immediately because the doctor-ward boy-broker link must be broken. They should catch the suspects and save poor patients who otherwise have to spend thousands of rupees for treatment in private hospitals,” a senior professor said.

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