Vardhan orders probe into graft in healthcare after sting expose

‘Operation Jonk’ exposed a nexus between doctors and pathological labs

July 22, 2014 08:47 pm | Updated 08:47 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has ordered a probe after a Hindi TV channel on Monday broadcast a sting operation titled ‘Operation Jonk’ exposing a nexus between medical practitioners and the managements of pathological laboratories and diagnostic centres in New Delhi.

In a statement in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, he said the programme showed the ease with which some doctors are collecting 30-50 per cent commissions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans, ultrasound and routine pathological tests. Some reputed diagnostic centres of Delhi, including its oldest were shown as involved in this racket.

While the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare does not accept a broad-brush depiction of the medical community as guilty of such malpractices, it is felt that some individuals indulging in such unethical conduct should be identified and disqualified from medical practice, the statement said.

The programme revealed a nexus of commissions paid by monthly or weekly cheques, unjustified profit margins — the staff of the diagnostic centres reveal that they pay referring doctors as much as 50 per cent commission on tests like MRI and cartels have developed which have almost uniform rates for tests. All private laboratories and diagnostic centres charge roughly the same amounts for pathological tests and clinical examinations. Patients have no option but to pay up the exorbitant fees. They are also subjected to unnecessary tests by the doctors who are guided by the lucre of commissions.

Directive to MCI The Health Secretary has been asked to conduct an impartial enquiry into the facts brought out by the TV programme on the News Nation channel which has been requested to submit a DVD and a copy of the script to facilitate the inquiry. The President of Medical Council of India (MCI) has been asked to summon an emergency meeting of its Ethics Committee. Mr. Vardhan has also written to the MCI President pointing out that the practice of accepting commissions is in clear violation of MCI’s Code of Ethics, 2002 under “Regulations on Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics for registered medical practitioners.”

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