In order to benefit the hospital and meet its commercial needs, one has to do things like keeping patients in the hospital longer than necessary, and doing unnecessary investigations and procedures (including angioplasty) since there was pressure from the management of the hospital.

My conscience began pricking and I left the hospital, cardiologist who left a corporate hospital after seven years, recently stated.

A reference for angioplasty can earn a doctor Rs 30,000-40,000.

Clip_66Recently, a young doctor who joined our department told me, “Sir, every month there is a meeting with the CEO. He asks me questions because instead of having a 40% conversion rate for OPD-operative as per the target, my conversion rate is just 10-15%. (Conversion rate means out of all patients seen by the doctor, how many are advised to undergo surgery or procedures. Rational doctors try to keep this rate low, but profit-driven hospitals try to maximise number of surgeries and procedures, even if they are unnecessary). He tells me that such low conversion rate will not do, and that unless I increase it, I will have to leave the hospital.” This young doctor will certainly surrender one day. To survive professionally, she will start doing 20-25% of additional procedures that are not required by medical logic. What choice does she have?”… And each corporate hospital has such targets! There is no getting out of it.

Pharma companies are giving foreign tours and junkets to doctors. It happens under the pretext of medical study. Unfortunately, some doctors eagerly wait for the pharma company invitation for foreign tours.

Private hospitals only want doctors who can help them earn more money. As a result doctors who practise ethically cannot last there. I know of a hospital where if a patient is charged Rs 1.5 lakh, the doctor gets a mere Rs 15,000. 90% of the income goes to the corporate coffers. Corporate hospitals can advertise while individual doctors are not allowed.

These are just a few of the shocking revelations revealed in interviews that expose the corruption in private healthcare. These ‘whistleblower’ doctors have exposed, perhaps for the first time on such a scale and in so many dimensions, the realities of the private medical sector today such as frequent irrational procedures and surgeries, the distorting influence of corporate and multi-specialty hospitals on ethics of the medical profession, and the growing grip of pharmaceutical companies on private medical practice. With testimonies by rational doctors from across Pakistan, this report can be an eye-opener for ordinary citizens as well as doctors, and could strengthen social support for much-needed moves to effectively regulate the private medical sector in Pakistan.

There is a strong lobby of the corporate health sector and the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council, the biggest lobby of doctors in Pakistan, that are trying to completely eliminate any kind of regulation. It is total jungle raj now.

Doctors have their lobbying groups like the PMA, which will speak of their interests. Society needs to speak up and lobby for the interests of the patients.