Over the last month, news about fake doctors has crowded almost every inch of any newspaper in West Bengal.
The uninitiated might think this racket is something exclusive to the rural areas of Bengal. However, within a span of two weeks, SIX fake doctors have been identified at top notch hospitals of Kolkata, the state capital.
And it is not like they were lurking in some lesser known hospital. Searches in institutions like Ruby General Hospital, Belle Vue Clinic have turned up appalling results.
The CID has identified over 500 fake doctors practicing in government hospitals and private clinics in West Bengal. A highly-placed official of the agency said that around seven to eight fake institutes were involved in the racket.
Know the miscreants
On June 2, Dr.(?) Subhendu Bhattacharya was arrested from his house in Ramrajatalla, for carrying out his practice based on fake medical degrees.
Subhendu’s rise to where he was has been so stupendous that his fall from it has come as quite a shocker to those who know him. He claimed to be the youngest member of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP, UK), for which he also held the Guinness World Record, or at least that is what he claimed.
He was awarded the lifetime achievement award by President Pranab Mukherjee during the 6th Dr. Malati Allen Nobel Award in Kolkata.
People like Shubhendu are only the tip of the iceberg. There have been reports of fake doctors charging rupees 2500 as their visit. Of course, nobody ever suspected anything because the general patient population firmly believes, “Costlier the doctor, better the care.”
The Dire Consequences…
The art of medicine is not something that can be easily duped. Being the only profession dealing with human lives, this is a very complicated science. The consequences of a nincompoop quack treating you could very easily be your death.
There are hundreds of complications, thousands of adverse drug reactions, and millions of unusual presentations.
An educated doctor, throughout his/her entire life, is unable to fathom the intricacies of the human body. You can very well imagine what might happen if your life is in the hands of a secondary examination passed fellow ‘claiming’ to be a doctor.
How Did They Continue The Duping For Years?
Police sources said that old registration numbers, used by doctors who are not in the profession now or had expired, were being provided to such persons. CID sleuths said that the fake certificates and registration numbers were given by fake institutes at a hefty price.
Also, these fake doctors had links with senior officials of the health department besides political laders and civil and police officers.
But, to understand the continued cheating strategy, one has to delve deeper. India has one of the LOWEST patient: doctor ratio. There is only 1 DOCTOR FOR EVERY 1789 PATIENTS.
Also, a good chunk of standard health care is concentrated in the urban areas. So, it is quite natural that people, especially those of the rural side, will visit any doctor available to them.
For them, some health care (regardless of its quality) is better than no health care. For the cheats, what better opportunity than to dupe the poor, desperately-searching-for-doctors population than this?
Why No Punishment For The Dupes?
Until very recently, doctors could be tried for criminal negligence if a patient died. Even today, doctors all over the country are being tried for medical negligence when on many occasions, it is not even their fault!
According to the recently imposed Clinical Establishment Act in West Bengal, a defaulting physician can be tried by a panel of upto 13 members and is liable to be meted punishments ranging from having to pay compensation to a 13 year jail term and 50 lakh fine. It doesn’t end here: the physician may even be subject to penal erasure of his name from the council registrations book.
While it is justified on the government’s to punish negligent doctors, let us have a look at the hilarity of the fake doctors situation. The punishment given to a fake doctor ranges from a 500 rupees fine to a mere 7 day term in jail!
Why this disparity? Are these so-called doctors not taking human lives? The government is unable to provide healthcare to all, yet firmly believes in lynching the existing ‘actual’ doctors while exempting the perpetrators of this evil fake racket just because many in this racket are really well connected.
The West Bengal government should take immediate steps which include enforcing stricter laws on these fake doctors. No amount of building intricately designed hospital gates is going to save patients if they happen to fall in a hands of well disguised quack.
Image credits: Google
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