WITH the failure of the public healthcare system, the need for private consultation and treatment is on the increase. This part of medical care has been seriously ignored both by professional bodies and by regulatory health authorities in terms of quality of purchased services and protection of patient rights.
The business of private consultation is flourishing in the country. There are no official or ethical checks as no standard operation procedures have ever been laid down.
Apart from medical ethics mentioned in books, it is essential to protect the rights of clients, i.e. private patients.
Most of them are poor coming from rural areas and are somehow forced by circumstances to seek expensive advice with costly investigations and shopperful of drugs. Some do it for the sake of admission in public hospital or to get favours from messiahs.
The following are some of the few salient points for consideration of all concerned:
Consultation fee should be specified according to qualification and clinical experience of the consultant.
The minimum time for consultation, including the patient’s right to express and explain his/her grievances.
Self limit on clinic timings and number of patients to be examined in a day.
Virtually multiple scattered clinics, late-night sittings and unchecked number of clients are all detrimental to the patient’s rights and provide poor quality of clinical services.
The number of patient visits permissible with full fee for brief reporting and subsequent follow-up calls.
Proper history taking and thorough physical examination of a patient by the consultant himself.
Proper patient record-keeping or noting sign symptoms on prescription for follow-up visits.
Patient satisfaction through counseling and guidance and facilitation when referring to others.
Telephonic accessibility of consultant for guidance when required in urgency.
Avoiding unnecessary or high tech investigations from labs of choice.
Prescription should be rational, affordable and not of choosy manufacturer.
DR ANWAAR A. BUGVI Public Health Physician Lahore