Upholding ethics

In a short span of nine years, the Shahid Gangalal National Heart Centre (SGNHC) has come to the rescue of hundreds of patients suffering from cardiovascular ailments. As the only hospital of its kind in the country, the facility has filled an important medical gap by offering a wide range of cardiac services. Its services are less expensive than similar ones offered elsewhere. Important as price factor is for the poor patients, even more indispensable is the breadth of specialised services it offers, which, before the Centre’s establishment were only available in India and abroad. It now plans to expand its services and reach, for which Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba laid the foundation stone for a 100-bed hospital on Friday. Starting from scratch to what it is now, the journey for the Centre has not been so easy but the progress has been notable.

A hospital’s reputation depends on the available hospital infrastructure and the amount of time medical staff devote to the patients, among others. Of course, no one can deliver good service in the absence of equipment and medicines, something hospitals across the country have long been reeling under. But at the heart of all hospitals lie the services of the specialists, whose experience is indispensable. Many good hospitals have been inviting criticism for failing to provide, among others, specialists’ services within the hospital corridors. Of course, the services are made available at private clinics, thanks to the lucrative nature of the discipline. The public has a perpetual gripe that several high-profile doctors who neglect their duty at government hospitals have acquired reputation by using those hospitals as the platform to launch and advertise their services. Specialists’ visits and attention are shortened by patient influx and, unpopular as it is, the practice of chiselling precious hours from the hospital schedule for the private patients. The SGNHC, which has some of the most well-trained doctors in the field, should take all measures to distance itself from these ill-practices.

To urge medicos to stick to a schedule is not asking them to refrain from engaging in a healthy private practice which could be balanced without hampering the services they are expected to deliver at the hospitals. To keep patients in the hospitals

waiting as precious life-saving seconds tick by is a gross violation of medical ethics and is an unfitting tribute to the discipline. Mere physical expansion may not lead to a similar improvement in the quality of service of a hospital. Equipment and space aside, ethics will therefore go a long way in the Centre’s evolution to meet the challenges posed by a disease that is fast becoming an epidemic in South Asia.