Is your doctor a ‘black market mudalali’ ?
Posted on February 22nd, 2011

By Ananda KANNANGARA- Courtesy Daily News

Mithripala Sirisena Pic: Vipula Amarasinghe

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena’s recent remarks over the conduct of private hospitals and doctors engaged in private practice were appreciated by people in the country.

According to Minister Sirisena, private hospitals overcharge patients even for minor ailments.

Minister Sirisena made these remarks at a ceremony held in Colombo where 844 medical graduates received their internship letters.

The Minister indirectly urged this group of medical graduates to think about the financial status of patients and serve them in a human manner and not to put them into difficulty.

Ninety five percent of our medical graduates are the products of the free education system and they should not forget it. There are only a handful of doctors who had obtained their medical degrees from foreign universities, but they too must think that they had their early education in this country free of charge.

Doctors should look at patients humanely. Nearly 80 percent of doctors in our country generally focus attention not towards the medical needs of patients, but on how to swell their income.

Chanaka Anuruddha

Farook Mohamed

A colleague of mine, who is a government hospital doctor and also doing private practice in the mornings and in the evenings at two hospitals in the city proudly says that his monthly income exceeds Rs. two million.

According to hospital sources he charges Rs. 850 from the first fifteen patients. Thereafter he goes to another private medicare institution at Bambalapitiya and charges Rs. 1,600 each from those patients. The patients are directed to this place by nurses in the private hospital.

It is the general opinion that when patients come to consult specialist doctors for various diseases, the doctors do not treat them humanely. They should not charge horrendously. The channelling fees are exorbitant for only five to six minutes of their time.

An employee in a famous Colombo private hospital said that some doctors charge Rs. 1,800 from each patient and the hospital gets only Rs. 300.

A local newspaper last week highlighted how some specialist doctors in some private hospitals ln Colombo charge patients from numbers 01 to 25 Rs. 2,500, numbers 25 to 50 Rs. 5,000 and numbers 50 to 75 Rs. 10,000.

How can one accept such unfair channelling charges?

A banker Ajith Sumanadasa of Rajagiriya said he took his brother to a private hospital in Colombo on June 23 for treatment of a sudden heart attack.

Although the doctors and nurses did their best to save his life, the patient died in two hours. Was it fair by the hospital to charge Rs. 78,500 from the bereaved family?

Although family members repeatedly requested that the hospital should not charge such a collosal amount for a mere two hours attention, they were informed that they could not remove the body unless full payment was made.

At a recent press conference, held by the Health Department in collaboration with some private hospitals at Aitken Spence Building in Colombo, a journalist had highlighted the unreasonable channelling charges by private hospitals.

Representatives of private hospitals at the head table expressed different views to protect their hospitals as well as the doctors who charge high channelling fees.

According to them, private hospitals spend millions of money to buy equipment and also on maintenance. Charges of private hospitals or high channelling fees were not big issues to them.

When the Sunday Observer interviewed the public for their views on this matter, a female doctor retired from the public service said that the majority of present day doctors earn large sums of money through private practice whilst neglecting patients at government hospitals.

A retired police officer, Dayasiri Weerakoon said most doctors in private hospitals ask patients to get more medical tests unnecessarily even for minor ailments.

“Doctors in private hospitals get commissions at the end of the month from laboratories,” he said.

Manager of a tourist hotel in Mt. Lavinia, Sunimal Rodrigo said in addition to high room charges and channelling charges, it is unfair that some private hospitals in Colombo charge a levy from patients for parking their vehicle at the hospital premises.

“Charging for vehicle parking inside hospital premises is very unfair and authorities must stop this,”

Chanaka Anuruddha said the majority of doctors in our country want to earn money and more money rather than fulfil the obligations to patients.

He called upon doctors not to go after money always by doing private practice and not to play with the lives of patients.

Farook Mohamed said unlike in the olden days present day doctors always talk about their rights and not the rights of patients.

“I remember during our younger days, some doctors in the plantation sector hospitals were in the habit of visiting patients every week rather than await for patients to come to the hospitals,”.

A banker, Kusum Lorensuhewa said the motive of 90 percent of doctors in the country was not service but was to earn money by doing private practice.

“I call them `Black Market Mudalalis'”.

A teacher, Kumari Waduge of Nugegoda said: “Some doctors in our area spend little time in hospitals. They do private practice at their residences located in close proximity to the hospitals.”

M. Sathasivam of Balangoda Estate said she was employed in the estate and requested health ministry officials to deploy more doctors to the estate hospitals.

A teacher, Sarath Weerakoon said during the olden days, doctors and teachers played a vital role to develop the country’s health and education sectors and their professions were valued by all.

“But, now these sectors do their services not for the benefit of the people but to achieve their own goals,”

Sudharshini Weerasiri of Hanwella said she was not happy with the attitude of the majority of doctors in the country as medical negligence is reported from almost every hospital.

She said the main intention of our doctors is to earn money and not to perform a service towards patients.

Gayathri Samarajeewa of Wellawatta said that some doctors in private hospitals force patients to get admitted in hospitals even for a minor ailment.

“Recently, when I consulted a doctor for a slight swelling on my right palm he urged me to stay at least a day at hospital for a

two-hour operation, but later I heard that another patient who consulted the same doctor for the same ailment had got the surgery done without staying overnight in the hospital,”.

Samarajeewa said the doctor would have asked her to stay in hospital since he knew that she was entitled to medical insurance coverage.”

“When some doctors know that patients are entitled to insurance benefits they force the patients to stay in hospitals even for minor ailment.”

However, a senior Health Department official said all private hospitals are monitored by the Private Medical Institution Regulatory Act.

One Response to “Is your doctor a ‘black market mudalali’ ?”

  1. devamitta Says:

    Most doctors are taking good care of themselves, some take good care of theire patients. In my experience it are the Ayurveda doctors who are earning less, but caring most! Once when I came to Rajagiriya to ask some help, for a old brother monk, the doctor there was willing to come all the way to Galle to look at the patient and when I asked what the costs would be he told me ;”i will come for free, I do this work with my hart, not for my wallet!” This additute I did not meet with others, surely! This is a real healer; not a money maker LIKE MANY OTHERS!

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