KOLKATA: It was time for private hospitals to disclose their capacity in terms of the actual number of patients they can attend to, according to KK Aggarwal, senior national vice-president of the Indian Medical Association. This will allow patients to take an informed decision on whether they would like to seek treatment at a particular hospital.
In Kolkata to deliver a lecture on Sunday, Aggarwal — a Padma Shri recipient — pointed out that medical establishments and doctors were not doing enough to win patients’ confidence, leading to a steady spurt in the number of negligence cases.
Hospitals in Kolkata, he said, were overburdened and needed to communicate their limitations to patients. “Hospitals should declare the number of patients they can cater to. This will provide patients an idea about the quality of treatment and let them decide if they would like to go to a particular hospital. It’s not fair to argue that you couldn’t provide proper treatment due to a lack of personnel or time constraints. This is the only way you can reduce the number of complaints,” said Aggarwal.
Referring to the Anuradha Saha case in which the Supreme Court asked AMRI Hospital to pay Rs 6 crore as compensation, Aggarwal said it was a classic case of the hospital acting hurriedly under time pressure. “Had the hospital informed the patient’s family about the amount of time their doctors devote to each patient, they could have chosen a different place for treatment. The hospital, too, could have claimed that they are not liable for a mistake that the doctors committed under time pressure,” explained Aggarwal. He, however, added that such a declaration can’t make either hospitals or doctors immune to legal action for errors.
With rising work pressure and competition, doctors often ignored some basic steps while treating a patient, Aggarwal said. “It is important that all doctors not just follow the line of treatment which has been decided in consultation with the patient or his family, but they must also document what they do and save that in case a dispute arises in the future.”
The AIDET principle needed to be adopted by doctors and hospitals alike, argued Aggarwal, who is also the president of the Heart Care Foundation of India. This will ensure that patients are aware of the course of treatment and its consequences.