The Hippocratic Oath taken for ethical conduct by doctors appears to have lost its relevance these days.
The tacit understanding between diagnostic centres and a large pool of physicians for referring patients for a variety of diagnostic tests has become a standard practice in the State capital.
Many conscientious medical practitioners themselves concede that many a time, tests which are not required are also prescribed to improve business of diagnostic centres. And these doctors get hefty commissions from these diagnostic centres.
It is an open secret that diagnostic centres survive on prescription.
Patients, who consult a doctor because they charge low consultation fee, are unaware of the fact that many such doctors make up for the ‘low' consultation fee by advising unnecessary tests.
Depending on the kind of test, most physicians directly receive their cut from the diagnostic centres.
Thanks to the mushrooming of diagnostic centres in the State capital, there is intense competition among them to win over a doctor. Typically, super-speciality doctors command 40 to 50 per cent cut in the overall bill, charged to the patient by the diagnostic centres.
Reputed diagnostic centres, however, have devised a novel system. They simply pay a lumpsum amount to the doctor every month.
“Our offer is Rs.1 lakh every month to super-speciality doctors. If the doctor prefers to go by bill by bill commission, for that we give Rs.1,000 for a CT scan, Rs.1,500 for an MRI. For PET CET Scan, the commission is between Rs.2,500 and Rs.3, 000,” a representative of diagnostic centre confided.
Thanks to the huge commissions, sometimes even up to 50 per cent involved, MRI and CT scans are favourites. Similarly, radiology tests like x-ray, pathological tests like blood tests and bone density tests bring around 25 to 30 per cent to the physicians on each bill.
“Kickbacks from diagnostic centres, medical shops and pharma companies to doctors have become a serious issue in Hyderabad. The greed among the doctors is increasing by the day. Ultimately, it is the patient who suffers by undergoing unnecessary tests and spending their hard-earned money. This practice is highly objectionable,” says vice-chairperson of Andhra Pradesh Medical Council, Dr. K. Ramesh Reddy.
Instances wherein doctors demand advance payment from diagnostic centres. “My limit of payment is Rs. 50,000 in a month. Sometimes, we even host weekend parties to the family of the doctors. Of course, the doctor ensures that we get the patients,” medical representative points out.