Focus on cardiologists' medical ethics

KOCHI DEC. 4. The Cardiological Society of India's four-day conference, the largest-ever professional meet held in Kochi and the most lavish one at that, closed here on Wednesday.

The meet--whose cost ran into several crores of rupees and which was co-sponsored by a host of drugs companies and medical equipment manufacturers--ended with a session on `Ethical issues in the practices of cardiology'.

Padmavathy from Delhi, a senior heart specialist, warned against the heartless commercialisation of the profession as has already happened in the West. She pointed out that in India too, the doctor-patient relationship was taking a consumerist shade and that doctors were increasingly becoming mere healthcare providers and the patients just service receivers. ``Development in medicine should not mean consumerising such a sacred field,'' she said.

Elaborating on the point, Prabhu from Manipal said that the patient and his doctor should have a very personal relationship and that the doctor should spend time to convince the patient of the usefulness of the treatment being provided to him. ``The doctor should show enormous amount of patience whereby his patient feels that the doctors has real concern for him.''

He said a doctor has certain rights vis-a-vis his patient. ``Just as a patient has the right to choose his doctor, a doctor has the right to choose his patient, too.'' The doctor has the right to refer the patient to another doctor or another hospital. He can refuse to provide fresh treatment to the patient if he is confident that the ongoing treatment is the best for the patient, Dr. Prabhu said.

R.P. Sapru from Chandigarh called upon cardiologists to keep an eye on the latest development in medical technology. New medical technologies required in-depth knowledge and creative application on the part of the cardiologist. He stressed the importance of more specialisation in cardiology and certification for employing new technologies in treatment.

Y.N. Rao, a senior Union Health Ministry official from Delhi, called for medical auditing which was increasingly practised in the West. ``It will definitely improve the quality of the service extended to the patients and will also ensure better performance on the part of doctors,'' he argued. He noted that there were some five lakh doctors in India. Some 20,000 doctors graduated from the 200 medical colleges in the country every year.

The cardiologists' meet was attended by some 2,500 specialists, including 32 from abroad. About 250 papers were presented at the scientific sessions, which were rated as the best ever held by the CSI in the past 25 years.

The meet was held on a grand scale. Accommodation for the delegates was arranged at expensive hotels, courtesy medical companies, in Kochi, Aluva, Angamaly, Alappuzha and Kottayam. Several hundred taxis were hired for transporting the delegates. Some expenses, like delegates' air fare, were divided among the medical companies.

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