Sunday, October 14, 2007

Orthopedic charges 900/- for 'telephonic consultancy'!!

Playing football on hard cement can be dangerous. A 14 year old boy, Master Ashutosh Amin, fondly known as ‘Ashu’ found out the hard way. He completely fractured his left forearm bones (the ulna and radius) on the 13th of October, 2007 at about 05: 30 pm. Surprisingly, his teenage mates rushed him to “Anup D’souza Accident Hospital” where a Compound fracture was clearly visible through an X-ray.

Mrs. Amin was handed a hefty estimate (Rs. 7000)-justified- given the gravity of the situation. The mother was distraught, so sought the advice of her family Doctor (Dr. Jain). He suggested ‘Kalpana Lifeline Hospital’. On the good Doctor’s recommendation, Little Ashu was rushed to Kalpana Lifeline by his elder brother’s friends. His elder brother, Mr. Kailash Amin is a quality analyst at 3 G Global technologies. He took an immediate leave and headed home.

Meanwhile, quite a drama unfolded at Kalpana lifeline. The Orthopedic Surgeon wasn’t around. An assistant contacted him through a mobile and explained Ashu’s medical crisis. The Doctor, a certain Mr. Sanju Patel told Mrs. Amin that by hearing what his apparently untrained assistant had to say, Ashu’s hand would have to be operated upon. The Expenditure would be Rs. 25000/- +, and he would have to be hospitalised for a week!

I have been operated twice, once for an appendectomy and a hernia. My mother had been in an ICU for 2 months due to fibrosis in her lungs. My brother has been in and out of hospitals quite a few times. My father recently had an Angiography, Angioplasty and a Cataract done. However, I have never come across an amazing and expensive phenomenon called ‘Telephonic consultancy’.

Doctors around the world are even using the internet for surgeries. There have been other medical breakthroughs and achievements which I shall marvel at some other time. But this surely takes the cake!

One can imagine the mother’s horror! “How could a doctor, without even seeing the patient personally come to the conclusion that it would cost her so much?” These thoughts were crossing her mind, and she spoke about them to the doctor. Dr. Patel told her that he would be reaching soon and advised her to admit the poor boy. Right through this charade, Ashu did not even shed a tear, merely wincing in pain.

Minutes passed by and the mother’s anxiety knew no bounds? “Where am I to get so much of money?” was the only question running through her mind. The doctor was nowhere to be seen. When the staff was contacted, Kailash’s friends were told he was at Bhayandar. When the Doctor was called again to plead for a discount, he said he was at Andheri.

The doctor’s whereabouts’ were not known, varying from Bhayandar to Andheri, from ten minutes to five. Taking into consideration the astronomical amount mentioned, and the fact that the doctor was in two places at one time, a collective decision was taken. Ashu was to be taken to Anup D’souza Accident Clinic.

No admission form had been signed, no X-ray was taken. Ashu had just been tied a crude hand-bandage, and was resting on a bed of the 2nd floor male ward. On leaving, we spoke to the doctor who was quite annoyed at our decision. We might have disturbed his party! We explained we just could not cough up that amount, and we just could not wait! We were told we could go, after paying a whopping Rs. 900 as consultancy/bed charges! I have never heard of consultancy costing so much. The bed was occupied for half an hour. The doctor concurred telephonically that Ashu would have to be operated upon. I could live with that. He said it would cost us our monthly salary. It went down too, albeit not smoothly. 900/- rupees for consulting over the phone? Super specialist’s, Cardiologist’s and Diabetologist’s don’t charge that much. More so, they are physically present then! I did not object, just asked for a bill. Why? How then, could I have written this article? How then, would have people known?

I have nothing but respect for the men in white. They have saved my life twice. But then, there are Doctors like Mr. Sanju Patel, of Kalpana Lifeline Hospital whom I wished practiced their trade somewhere far off.

Kartikeya Dwivedi

Copyright of Kartikeya Dwivedi 2007


Darshu said...

Gone are the days when doctors used to work for saving life and making the world a better place... Todays its only money money and money ....

Rashmi said...

Sad and scary indeed!
Reminds me of my favourite sayings....This happens only in India!

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