news Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute| August 23, 2014| 9.20 pm IST Vijay TV’s talk show ‘Neeya Naana’ on medical ethics in Tamil Nadu has become the bone of contention within the medical community after discussions were triggered over unnecessary health tests and kickbacks received by doctors. Points discussed on the show include redundant implementation of expensive master health checkups and ‘unnecessary’ screening for diseases like diabetes and hypertension in patients. However, counterarguments made by doctors in various social media forums dissented that such health checkups are essential to identify lifestyle diseases like diabetes which is rampant in India today. Kickbacks received by doctors for referrals to specific laboratories they tie up with was another point that was discussed on the show hosted by Gopinath. One disgruntled member of the public had pointedly asked the doctors on the show. “Why do you ask us to go only to that particular lab or hospital for a test?” People in the program also asked if master health checks were to screen people for common diseases, why were TB tests (sputum analysis) not a part of the tests? The audience had alleged that doctors screen people for diabetes and hypertension only to make money. But many doctors in Tamil Nadu are denying it, saying while it is important to include TB tests, it is unfair to say there is no need to conduct tests for diabetes and hypertension as these diseases are an epidemic in India. Mass screening for TB is not effective, they add. The programme has turned into such a huge controversy that as of Monday, a complaint has been filed by the Intern and Post-graduate Association of Tamil Nadu seeking action against the talk show coordinators. Senior health journalist Pushpa Narayanan on a Facebook post noted, “There are many doctors who are unethical – they demand kickbacks for diagnosis, they are pampered by pharmaceutical companies for prescribing medicines to patients, and they are cunning enough to ask for authorships in research studies they are not a part of.” She believed that many of them put patients last on their list of priority. She highlighted the dearth of informative medical health reporting in Tamil Nadu saying that “neither media organizations nor doctors associations have taken efforts change the way healthcare reporting is done in India. “ Underscoring the importance of well-informed medical health coverage, Narayanan believed that questions asked by well-informed journalists can make the distinction between genuine public health knowledge and advertising. During a hospital press conference highlighting its 99% success rate in heart surgeries, only two out of 20 media people asked the key question – what “success” meant, said Narayanan . According to the hospital, it meant "Patient is wheeled out alive from the theatre." However, more important parameters of consideration towards quality of life or survival after leaving the operation theatre were excluded.

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