July 28, 2008

Indian Medicos Condemns Terrorist attack on Hospitals

Indian Medicos strongly condemns the arbitary slaughter of innocents in the name of Terrorism/Jihad etc. Indian Medicos also strongly condemns targetting of Hospitals, patients and Doctors.

"If you don't like India, GO TO HELL! Let us live in Peace!"

Ahmedabad hospital's horrors and hopes- Terror Strike

For the first time ever, terror strikes in India have targeted hospital doctors, hospital workers and their families.

Doctors in Ahmedabad's Civil Hospital -- the worst hit by the bombings -- are battling their own fears and tragedies to help the blast victims.

Inside the hospital is the stark reality of the enormous human cost otherwise lost in statistics and fast changing headlines.

From medical students -- volunteering long hours -- to serpentine queues at the mortuary to rumours of a human bomb, the story of this hospital captures Gujarat's tragedy and horror.

The most heartbreaking story is that of a little child, Yash Vyas, fighting for survival, unaware of the full horror that awaits him outside.

Yash is in indescribable, unbearable pain. He is asking the doctors where his parents are as his trembling arm hits the empty air for help.

On the bed beside him is his elder 12-years-old brother Rohan. Doctors say Rohan may not survive. Yash and Rohan's father, Dushyant, was a technician in the hospital's cancer wing.

Like any other dad, he was spending the weekend teaching his sons how to ride a bicycle. A terror attack destroyed the perfect picture. Now, as little Yash fights a lonely battle in hospital, his house is deep in mourning. And his mother is wondering how to tell her sons the truth.

Dushyant's body has just been wheeled out of the mortuary. It's the news that hundreds others hope not to hear.

Today, at the Civil Hospital, they pray for both salvation and safety.

What else can they do after all but surrender to the power of a force they cannot fight or wake up to the reflection of a bloody new reality?

What do you say to a daughter whose father may not survive; how do you face a mother who has just learnt that her only son is dead. And what courage can you offer a little one fighting desperately and alone to live.

At the hospital's mortuary, people are coming from all parts of the city to hunt down relatives who never came home.

July 27, 2008

Timed Ahmedabad blasts kill 18 in hospitals

With chilling ruthlessness, terrorists targeted hospitals in Ahmedabad to maximise casualties on Saturday. Two public hospitals - Civil Hospital and L G Hospital - apart from a private hospital run by VHP’s international general secretary Pravin Togadia - were targeted, killing 18 people.

The blasts were triggered by timer devices to coincide with the rush of victims from other blast sites. Two blasts at Civil Hospital at 7.55 pm and 8.02 pm near the trauma centre killed at least 15 persons, reportedly including two doctors and a medical student. The first blast took place inside an ambulance in the parking lot while the other one, planted on a bicycle, went off soon after that.

The intensity of the blast was so powerful that a person’s body was flung nearly 50m from the spot while another victim’s leg was found nearly 100m away.

Windowpanes on the second floor of the building and windshields of cars parked almost 100m away were also smashed. Patients in nearby wards of the largest public hospital in Gujarat jumped out of their beds and ran for safety.

The blast at LG Hospital went off in a car parked near the emergency ward and killed at least three. When the blast rocked the hospital at 7.45 pm, injured people streaming in from other blast sites were being treated just a few metres away. Windowpanes and glasses in the ward facing the parking lot were blown off.

Panicking relatives moved their injured kin out of the hospital. Sources said the car had been parked there for days.

July 25, 2008

Medpedia –Online Medical Encyclopedia To Be Launched By Year End

Doctors, researchers and medical professionals in collaboration with internet majors are in the making of the world's largest online medical encyclopedia – Medpedia.

Based on the design similar to that of Wikipedia- the online encyclopedia - the site at www.medpedia.com will offer an online collaborative medical encyclopedia for use by the general public as well as medical experts.

Moreover, to maintain the accuracy and update the latest medical feats’ the site content will be written and edited by trained professional not less than an MD or a PhD.

Major health institutions and leading organizations including the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Stanford School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health, the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and other government research groups will contribute content to Medpedia.

Web pages with easy-to-understand information will feature content about diseases, anatomy, procedures, medications and medical facilities.

Incorporating two pages for a topic, the front page will carry basic details understandable to a layman, while the second link – a technical page – will allow medical professionals to discuss the topic in a more clinical tone.

Over 30,000 diseases, more than 10,000 prescription drugs and thousands of medical procedures are expected to be discussed on the online forum.

Founded by James Currier, a seasoned Silicon Valley entrepreneur, MedPedia’s Advisory Board includes
• Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., Professor University of Michigan Medical School;
• Linda Hawes Clever, M.D., M.A.C.P., Clinical Professor University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical School;
• Joseph B. Martin, M.D., Ph.D., former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University;
• Mitch Kapor, philanthropist and founder of Lotus Development Corporation, designer of Lotus 1-2-3,
• Chair of Board of Directors for Linden Lab (creator of Second Life),
• Chair of Mozilla Corporation,
• and a member of the Advisory Board for the Wikimedia Foundation.

The site www.medpedia.com still under construction will be officially launched by the year’s end. However, as of now contributors can apply to be included, and users can submit feedback and suggestions at the live preview site.

Internet Video Revolution - Sutter Health Harnesses Power of Web 2.0 to Inform Customers

Are you an e-patient? Studies show that 80 percent of American Internet users go online for health information. Thanks to Web 2.0, e-patients now have even more ways to share personal health experiences, shop for health care and learn about advanced medical technologies. Go to and you'll see one of the ways Sutter Health is transforming how it communicates with patients through its interactive online "Report to Our Communities."

"Having a fully online annual report isn't yet a trend in health care, but digital information certainly is a trend and it makes sense for organizations to adapt to how people receive information today," said Pat Fry, Sutter Health president and CEO. "This is more than a digital brochure; it's an interactive experience that allows visitors to view information about Sutter Health when and how they want it."

A key feature of Sutter Health's "Report to Our Communities" is a series of compelling video stories of patients, community partners and employees. It also includes interactive Web pages where visitors can view Sutter Health's advancements in clinical quality and patient safety, charity care and community partnerships, as well as financial information and vital statistics.

The demand for relevant and newsworthy Web 2.0 content is skyrocketing; YouTube and other video sharing sites are revolutionizing the way people seek and receive information online. According to the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of adult Internet users watch online videos.

"Sutter Health's online videos allow visitors to see firsthand, through an entertaining format, how our focus on quality, investment in patient safety and dedication to convenient access truly benefit our patients and communities," added Fry. "Traditional paper annual reports also consume tens of thousands of sheets of paper. Our online approach conserves natural resources and has helped us to preserve nearly a dozen trees."

Here's a snapshot of what you can see at http://SutterHealth.org/annualreport:

Life Saving EHR Technology

Julie's story -- "Sutter's EHR saved my life."

Julie Alvarez was getting a routine physical before her scheduled back surgery when an alert popped up on her electronic health record (EHR) -- she was due for her first mammogram. Although eager to get her back surgery done, she made an appointment for the screening. The mammogram results were stunning -- Julie had breast cancer. Watch Julie's story ().

Convenient Access to Quality Care

Joan's story -- "I can't think of anything else, except hip-hip hurrah for this place."

Joan Amen has lived in Stockton her entire life. As she aged, she developed numerous health problems, and now requires frequent monitoring and blood tests. For years, Joan and her daughter, who is her primary caregiver, would drive to multiple health care offices around town to get her tests done. It was an exhausting routine that Joan is now able to leave behind. Her routine has changed for better thanks to Sutter Health and the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation. Watch Joan's story ().

Caring for the Uninsured

Norma's story -- "I had nowhere to turn."

Norma Gonzalez was in disabling pain but didn't have health insurance and couldn't afford the surgery necessary to correct the cartilage tear in her knee. She was unable to work or care for her young daughter. That's when she connected with Operation Access and Sutter Health and her life changed forever. Watch Norma' story ().

Devoted Doctors and Donors Keep Doors Open

Brownsville's story -- "We do what we can, as well as we can, and as lovingly as we can."

About 35 years ago two doctors left the big city for Brownsville, Calif., a rural community 75 miles outside of Sacramento. From a converted barracks of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the pair began seeing patients. A generation later, the Brownsville team is part of Sutter Health and the entire local community has stepped up to keep this small medical facility up and running. Watch the Brownsville clinic's story ().

Patient and Employee Satisfaction

Percy's story -- "This is the Sutter Difference."

Each year, employees throughout Sutter Health complete a confidential worker satisfaction survey. When he looked at his department's survey results, Percy Williams, director of Radiology, Santa Cruz Medical Foundation knew things could be improved. So he worked with his team to make some big changes - changes that had a huge positive impact on patients. Watch Percy's story ().

Additionally, Sutter Health's first-ever comprehensive and interactive annual report, released last year, has received rave reviews and several awards including:

-- Judge's Choice trophy in the Aster Awards, recognition that is given only to division winners with perfect scores from all judges. One of ten such awards received from 3,000 entries. This achievement earned the report a feature in the award issue of Marketing Healthcare Today.

-- Bronze Award from the 2007 Vision Awards Annual Report Competition presented by the League of American Communications Professionals (LACP).

-- Finalist in the most-improved publication category for Ragan Communications.

-- Merit Award from the International Association of Business Communicators.

About Sutter Health

Sutter Health is a family of physician organizations, not-for-profit hospitals and other health care service providers that share resources and expertise to advance health care quality and access. Serving more than 100 communities in Northern California, Sutter Health is a regional leader in cardiac care, cancer treatment, orthopedics, obstetrics, and newborn intensive care, and is a pioneer in advanced patient safety technology.

8% of primary health centres don't have docs

In the wake of the dismal state of rural health services, government may make a one-year stint in the villages mandatory for MBBS students before they can apply for a postgraduate degree.

According to the recent National Rural Health Mission report, nearly 8% of the country's 22,669 primary health centres don't have a doctor while nearly 39% were running without a lab technician and 17.7% without a pharmacist.

The condition of the 3,910 community health centres, supposed to provide specialized medical care, is equally appalling. Out of the sanctioned strength, posts of 59.4% surgeons, 45% obstetricians and gynaecologists, 61.1% physicians and 53.8% pediatricians are vacant.

India churns out 29,500 medical graduates annually, but most of them are reluctant to serve in villages and would rather join the private sector for better salaries and an urban posting. In effect, 67% of doctors enrolled for rural posting remain absent from duty.

Also, there is only one allopathic doctor for 1,634 people. According to MCI, the total number of registered allopathic doctors in the country is 6,83,582.

July 24, 2008

UK doctors to face regular tests of competence

Britain's 150,000 doctors will have to show they are fit to practice once every five years in the nation's biggest change to medical regulation for 150 years.

Doctors falling below standard risk being struck off the medical register unless they improve, under plans published by England's Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson on Wednesday.

The government outlined the proposals last year as part of measures to help restore public trust in the profession after the case of a serial killing family doctor named Harold Shipman.

At present doctors can only be debarred if complaints about their conduct or medical practice are upheld by regulators at the General Medical Council.

Last year the GMC struck off a total of 60 doctors.

Most doctors already undergo annual peer performance reviews, looking at factors such as prescribing habits and how up to date they are on the latest medical advice and research.

Under the new scheme these reviews will be standardized and patients will also be asked for their views on issues such as doctors' communication skills and ability to involve the patient in treatment decisions.

The new appraisals will begin in pilots in late 2009. Doctors will need to be recertified as competent every five years.

"There hasn't been that process before," said a Department of Health spokeswoman. "Once someone was certified they could be a doctor for 50 years, the way the current system works."

GMC President Graeme Catto said the plans were "the biggest change to medical regulation in one hundred and fifty years."

Shipman managed to kill an estimated 250 patients between 1972 and 1988 without being challenged by a system that was deemed to be stacked in favor of the doctor rather than the patient.

But British Medical Association Chairman Hamish Meldrum told BBC radio it would be wrong to think the new system was being introduced just to catch another Shipman.

"Shipman... was not necessarily a badly performing doctor in terms of his clinical practice not being good -- he was a murderer."

"We are not devising system purely to pick up murderers, we are trying to do a system that for the majority of doctors helps them to improve their practice."

TN to launch centralised ambulance service

A centralised ambulance service would be launched in Tamil Nadu by the end of next month with Chennai as its base, state Health Minister M R K Pannerselvam said on Wednesday.

The service would be operated by the Emergency Medical Research Institute in Triplicane, he told reporters.

A hotline would be provided to callers from anywhere in the state to contact the control room which has the facility of geographic mapping of the caller through satellite and the patient will be picked up and transferred to the nearest hospital in ambulances fitted with emergency facilities.

Initially the government would provide 198 ambulances to the institute.

Hitherto, ambulance services were entrusted with non-governmental agencies. However, it had not been clicked due to various reasons.

The Minister, who earlier inspected taluk and headquarters hospitals in the district, said the government had recommended to the TN Medical Service Commission to appoint new doctors to the posts where existing personnel had gone on long leave.

"The government had asked the commission to recruit 150 doctors immediately and 800 in the next year, he said.

The government was evolving a strategy to ensure that the taluk hospitals had their full strength of doctors in the specific specialties, he said.

On the functioning of the PHCs, he said the government was extending various facilities such as solar water heating and inverters. Even hiring of private doctors by the PHCs was permitted, he said adding that this would ensure that poor villagers need not shit to private hospitals.

July 23, 2008

Drug firms may stop freebies to doctors

Pharmaceutical companies in the country offering any financial incentive to doctors to prescribe particular drugs may become a thing of the past if the drug manufacturers decide to follow the strict code of conduct being implemented by a US industry trade group.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the most influential industry association of multinational drug companies in the US, had recently revised its code of business ethics, following which the companies decided to stop offering gifts or other incentives to promote drug sales.

"Most of the multinational companies want their subsidiaries in other parts of the world, including in India, to follow the ethical practices they follow. Our members are implementing the code of ethics brought out by our association in January last year," said Tapan Ray, director general of the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI).

PhRMA, which represents leading American pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, also insists its members to follow ethical marketing practices and focus on ways to educate the doctors on various treatment options than to promote a particular medicine.

The Indian Drugs Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and Indian Medical Association have also enacted its own code of conduct to restrict unethical marketing practices in drug distribution and healthcare practices.

OPPI and IDMA had conducted some joint awareness programmes on the issue among doctors and the industry. OPPI has set up a two-level committee to look into the complaints against erring members, said Ray.

However, intense competition in the market force most of the companies to violate the code of ethics, say industry sources.

Usual marketing practices followed by most of the large and mid-sized companies include valuable gifts, arranging foreign trips with family and complimentary tickets and memberships for social activities to doctors.

Many companies arrange family holiday programmes for doctors within India and abroad as part of continuous medical education (CME) programmes.

Normally, December-January period, a lean season for drug manufacturers, is also the time for many doctors to go on vacation and CME programmes, note industry sources.

PhRMA, which is one of the largest and most influencial lobbying organizations in Washington, has, however, directed its members not to siphon funds for bribing the doctors under the guise of CME programmes to help doctors enhance their knowldge base.

"It is not fair to accuse the medical representatives on bribing the doctors, as these kind of deals are directly done by middle to upper level management, which maintain constant contact with the doctor community," said D P Dubey, general secretary of the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives' Associations of India (FMRAI).

The association's two lakh members in the country resorted to a one day strike on April 24 this year to protest against unethical marketing practices followed by their employers.

"It is not fair to accuse the physician community as a whole for accepting bribes and gifts from companies to write their prescriptions. Most of the doctors do not go beyond free physician samples offered to them," said an Indian Medical Association office bearer.

We also follow ethics in our profession and there may be some aberrations. But it is not fair to accuse the community as a whole," said an Indian Medical Association office bearer.

In the US where almost half of the global drug sales take place, there are non-profit organizations such as No Free Lunch, which urges medical school students not to accept free gifts or meals from the drug industry. Rules in the pipeline such as Physician Payments Sunshine Act, make it mandatory for doctors to detail the payments received from companies.

Pharma companies are also being pressurised to divulge the details of their spending for doctors.

"The change has to happen with the mindset of the management, doctors, sales representatives and all other involved in this system. It requires bold decisions, sense of social responsibility and ethical living. Companies are functioning in extremely competitive enviornment and it is very difficult to effect the changes quickly in the current circumstances," said Dr. R B Smarta, Director of Interlink Marketing, a pharmaceutical and healthcare consultancy which framed the code of ethical practices for IDMA.

"It is a burning issue with the industry and in the recent past we were more focussed on policy issues such as the fixed dose combination problem. Soon we will come up with more strategies to weed out unethical marketing practices plagued with the industry," said Daara B Patel, secretary general of IDMA.

July 22, 2008

Medical tourism needs 5k-10k professionals in 5 years

With medical tourism in India expected to grow 30% annually till 2012, the demand for talent is going up at a brisk pace even as it opens up a whole gamut of job opportunities in the sector. Little wonder then that a full-time course in medical tourism launched by the Indian Clinical Research Institute (ICRI) has generated a great deal of interest in the medical fraternity.

India’s medical tourism is expected to be a $2.2-billion industry by 2012, up from the current $1.2 billion. Encouraged by the growth momentum, the government has launched medical visas to be given on a priority basis.

Estimates suggest that there would be a demand for 5,000-10,000 professionals specifically catering to this industry segment in the next five years. These would include international marketing professionals, patients relation managers, backoffice employees.

However, analysts believe there’s an acute need for infrastructure to train people in these functions. And there are no institutions offering such niche courses. “There is a great demand for such modules as the manpower requirement goes up and the need for specialised roles arises,” says ICRI HEALTH director, health service, major general (Dr) M Srivastava.

The course from ICRI would offer training in hospital & health services, financial management, marketing, OR techniques, costing and budgeting. Pricing techniques, hospitality & patient relation & conflict resolution, healthcare laws & regulations, health insurance & regulations, business ethics & corporate governance are also part of the course. A major requirement, say experts, would also be for patient relation managers who can understand the needs of people from other geographies, their food habits, language and their comfort level.

Soft skills would be in great demand. Currently, individuals with a background in medicine deliver such services. As the need increases and the doctors become more engaged with the medical procedures, a different pool of people would be required to man those positions.

“Till now no institute offered such courses and the hospitals survived only on in-house resources and training,” says Apollo Healthcare and Lifestyle CEO Ratan Jalan.

July 21, 2008

Do doctors need special protection?

Home minister RR Patil has promised that a special Act would soon be enacted to protect doctors, hospitals and clinincs from attacks by angry patients. The Act is said to be based on a similar law passed by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.

There have been mixed reactions about the Act in the medical community. While some doctors have expressed gratitude, many wonder what the need is to enact a law that creates special provisions for a privileged class.

No one seems to be addressing the question why the consumer has turned against the men in white. The reasons for violence against medical professionals stem from the fact that patients are suspicious of the doctors’ intentions and methods of the working.

Increasing incidences of Caesarean surgery and hysterectomies, widespread misuse of technology and the feeling of being taken for a ride, have led to patient outrage. Medical negligence is difficult to prove and consumer courts take years to give justice. These, coupled with doctors not opining on others’ mistakes on record, make the common man want to take law into his own hands.

Frustration and a feeling of helplessness to cope with corruption in the enforcement mechanism add to patient discontent. Transparency in attitude, counseling in the treatment of patients and offering a second opinion when a case is complicated are often never offered to patients, who then believe that the doctor has no time to talk to him, except when collecting his fees. Lack of knowledge on how the human body works and media reports on how there is a ‘pill for very ill’ makes many believe that not curing a patient is negligence.

The media has contributed significantly to doctor-bashing recently. Stories of alleged negligence with a little masala, and a sobbing relative after the death of a person help increase their TRPs. Watching a mob attack a clinic or hospital on TV makes many feel that this can be done with impunity, as police often watch helplessly.

What Patil forgets is that laws do not make for good compliance by people at large. Existing statutes are more than adequate to take care of vandals and those who break the law. The alternative to enforcement by police and prompt delivery of justice cannot be another law.

Indian docs in Britain allege racial discrimination

The National Health Service (NHS) in Britain celebrated its 60th birthday this month. But Indian doctors — the foot soldiers of the NHS since its inception — still feel discriminated against.

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) says that immigration laws that effectively kicked 10,000 Indian doctors out of Britain in 2006 and “institutional racism” within the NHS must be reversed.

Indian doctors represent one fifth of all NHS doctors. There are currently over 30,000 Indian doctors and 23,000 nurses in the NHS, but the celebrations this month are bittersweet.

“Indians have been the backbone of the NHS for fifty years and the recent immigration laws are a slight to Indian doctors. It is a very sad situation,” said Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of BAPIO. “In the 1950s and 1960s, British doctors were not interested in working in inner-city practices or specific areas like psychiatry or care of the elderly. Indian doctors filled the vacuum. The NHS would have collapsed without them. The British public respects the work of Indian doctors but the UK government doesn’t.”

The NHS, however, remains thankful to the Indian doctors for their current role and historic contribution. The service would not have made it to 60 years without Indian medical staff, the NHS has said.

“The contribution that the Indian staff made to the NHS was, and remains enormous,” said NHS spokesperson Alison Langley. “The NHS, from its inception in 1948 up to the present day, has become a high quality service because of the commitment, skill and dedication of health professionals from India and other parts of the world. Today, doctors and nurses from India have firmly established themselves as core members of Britain’s health service.”

In 2000, the British government launched a recruitment drive of Indian doctors because of a shortage of doctors in the UK. However, in April 2006, the UK government suddenly announced it was abolishing permit-free training for overseas doctors because many British doctors were unemployed. Nearly 10,000 Indian doctors who had gone to Britain to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board Test (PLAB) were forced to leave.

A successful court ruling in November 2007 that allowed Indian doctors be treated on a par with their EU counterparts, gave BAPIO some hope. But a quota system still exists in the NHS that gives first preference to EU doctors. Physicians from other parts of the world are considered for employment only if there are no suitable candidates from the EU countries.

The BAPIO alleges that racism exists in NHS. “There is institutional racism in the NHS. Indians are rarely promoted to posts like senior consultant or professors, as British doctors are preferred,” alleges Dr Mehta.

The NHS, however, says it is committed to racial equality.

Docs with foreign PG from France, Germany, Russia, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Singapore, South Africa and Spain set to get Govt's nod

In a bid to allow Indian doctors practising abroad to return and plug the acute shortage in healthcare back home, the government may soon recognize postgraduate medical degrees of 10 foreign countries.

Degrees from France, Germany, Russia, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Singapore, South Africa and Spain are under consideration, which will allow Indian doctors settled in these countries to return home and practise without even a physical verification, health ministry officials said. The move was aimed at reducing the country's shortage of trained doctors, especially in super speciality disciplines, they said.

So far, doctors who had completed MBBS from a recognized university in India and completed the PG degree from any of these countries were unable to return and practise in India as their PG degrees were not recognized.

The intention also comes four months after the ministry allowed Indian doctors with PG degrees from UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to return and practise in India in any public or private hospital.

The ministry is also working on amending the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, to allow Indian doctors returning home from these 15 countries to automatically become a faculty member of a medical college, if they want to teach under-graduate students.

So far, India recognized the PG degree of a foreign country only as a reciprocal gesture, limiting the bracket to Ireland, Bangladesh and Nepal which recognized Indian degrees. However, the shortage of both doctors and faculty has made the health ministry reconsider the rule.

"In March, we opened the door for doctors with PG degrees from five countries to return and practise in India. Now, we are planning to do the same from 10 other countries," a health ministry official said. He added, "We are setting up an expert committee which will visit these 10 countries, study their medical education curriculum, course duration and see how students pursuing PG medical degrees. If they are found to be on a par with global standards, we hope to recognize their PG degrees within the next few months".

Experts say India is increasing its number of PG seats and medical institutes offering PG degrees. Six new AIIMS-like institutions are coming up. All these will require specialized faculty which can't be generated from the present pool.

"That's why we are trying to remove all barriers for Indian doctors to return. We expect many to come on sabbaticals for a short stint in teaching or even practise in hospitals. At present, India has one doctor per 1,634 people. In rural India, nearly 67% of doctors who are enrolled remain absent from duty," an official said. According to Health Minister A Ramadoss, Indian doctors have till now preferred to serve the American poor. He said recently, "Don't desert your country and settle abroad. Although some reversal of the brain drain process has started, it continues. Not only are they the largest single group of foreign doctors in the US from India, one estimate is that about 75% of doctors in the medically under-served areas of US are from India alone."

Link: Original Article

Ordinance provides protection to medical professionals in TN

Any uncalled for attack on a doctor or a medical institution in the State will henceforth attract imprisonment of three to 10 years, according to an ordinance promulgated recently.

The ordinance, providing protection to medical professionals, is on the lines of a law enacted in Andhra Pradesh. Governor Surjit Singh Barnala gave his consent on Friday, Health Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam said here on Sunday.

The ordinance, a long-pending demand of doctors both in the private and the public sector, provides protection to all registered doctors, nurses, students of medicine and nursing and paramedical workers.

The Chief Minister considered the request at length and, after discussion, the ordinance was drafted.

July 20, 2008

Reliance ADAG care for personal health

Anil Ambani-owned ADAG is entering the personalised healthcare services. Medybiz, part of the group’s Reliance Health Ventures, is learnt to be in the final stages of developing a home-based disease management programme that aims at addressing chronic ailments. Touted to be the first of its kind in India, the programme is based on a partnership between physicians and their patients and is serviced by an expert panel of medical and para-medical professionals.

The programme will seek to address ailments such as diabetes, coronary heart diseases, hypertension, obesity, cancer, as well as orthopaedic disorders, neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. According to the World Health Organization, India will record an estimated loss of national income to the tune of $54 billion on account of chronic diseases by 2015. “Our teams of medical specialists are developing unique home-based disease management programmes,” said a company spokesperson.

These unique home-based programmes will help people change unhealthy lifestyles that lead to chronic diseases and improve self-care skills during an illness. It will also make cost-effective healthcare decisions. The service will be provided only through the doctors and on their advice. No patient will be approached directly and the company’s medical professionals will only implement and ensure that the doctor’s advice is followed. The company, however, did not want to comment at this stage on when they expect the service to be launched.

July 19, 2008

India to have tele-medicine service with SAARC countries: External Affairs Minsiter

Tele-medicine services will become operational between India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka by this year end, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here today.
"To start the tele-medicine services by September this year, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between India and Bhutan," he said adding that after this the service would become operational between Indian and Sri Lanka too by the year-end.

"The Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research here has been chosen as one of the super-speciality institutes for implementation of telemedicine programme in SAARC countries", Mukherjee said while addressing the students and faculty during the 29th annual Convocation of the Institute.

Pointing to the importance of quality health care among the poor, he said "he 10th Plan allocation for health was Rs. 42,000 crore. The 11th Plan envisages tripling the allocation".

Praising the faculty of the PGIMER, he said "since the faculty was among the best in India I would urge the doctors to focus their energies on answering the health needs of this country." "We need a lot more grass-roots research on the epidemiology of our diseases, on infections, on nutrition and its interaction with disease processes, on simplified treatment regimens, and so on," he said. PTI

July 18, 2008

UK paves way for Indian doctors, to ease restrictions

Indian doctors wishing to practice in the United Kingdom will soon find it easier to work there, and will be spared going through rigorous screening procedures. In what can be viewed as a positive response to the Indian Health Ministry’s decision to recognise foreign postgraduate degrees in medicine, the UK has now decided to proceed in the same direction. The decision also comes in the wake of a court case won by Indian doctors in Britain who protested a proposed legislation banning the recruitment of overseas doctors.

But now, according to sources in the Indian Health Ministry, the UK Department of Health has asked its counterpart in India to formulate a joint working group, which will work on the details of the new plan. “They seem to be positive and it’s a great achievement. We will soon start working on the modalities with the UK officials,” said a senior official in the Ministry.

Earlier this year, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss had announced that Indian doctors with postgraduate degrees in medicine from the UK, US, Canada, England and New Zealand would be allowed to practice in India. “It was necessary since many doctors working in these countries had shown their willingness to come to India and practice,” the Minister had said then. While, the other countries are still to get back to India on the issue, the UK’s move to work jointly with the Indian Government comes as good news for doctors here.

“The case has been won by the Indian doctors and if the UK Government also recognises the degrees of the Indian doctors, they will not have to go through PLAB (Professional and Linguistic assessments Board) Test, which is mandatory for the doctors to practice. While, India has already done its bit, it’s time for other countries to move ahead,” said Dr N P Singh, professor of medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC).

July 15, 2008

America’s Best Hospitals

For the 18th consecutive time, The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore was placed at the top in the list of ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ released by the U.S. News & World Report.

The survey conducted by Massachusetts Health Quality Partners, included 51,000 adult patients and 20,000 parents of pediatric patients. The results were prepared by compiling the data from the American Hospital Association and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Information from all sources was collected and analyzed on behalf of US News by RTI International, a Research Triangle Park nonprofit.

Reputation, death rate and handling of difficult situations were some of the factors considered while judging the hospitals.

The routine procedures were not given much credit but analysts questioned the doctors, medical staff and their ability to handle patients and their queries on their ailments and necessary treatments.

Only one-third of the U.S. hospitals were considered for the list, since the qualification criterion required the institutes to either be affiliated with a medical school, a member of the Council of Teaching Hospitals or employ at least six of 13 key technologies such as robotic surgery.

The research firm studied data on 5,453 medical centers to come up with the specialty rankings. Only 170 hospitals were ranked in one or more specialties and just 19 of those made it to the ‘honor roll’ status, which signifies hospitals that scored at or near the top in at least six of the list’s 16 specialties.

The Methodist Hospital in Houston was placed in 12 medical specialties, and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, was placed in eight.

Last year The Methodist was placed in 14 of 16 specialties and St. Luke's got nine.
"This achievement is a tribute to our physicians and employees whose talents, dedication and compassion make Methodist one of the best hospitals in the country," said Ron Girotto, CEO and president of The Methodist Hospital System.

St. Luke's made it to the top 10 list for heart surgery for the 18th consecutive year.

Overall, pediatricians got the best appraisal from the classicization since 95 percent parents were happy about communication compared to the 90 percent of adult patients.

Communication played significant role in patients’ care, and more than 80 percent of the patients said their own doctors gave them clear explanations.

Hospitals that made it to the ‘Honor-roll’ are:
• Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
• Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
• Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
• Cleveland Clinic
• Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
• New York-Presbyterian University Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell
• University of California, San Francisco Medical Center
• Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston and Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
• Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle
• Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St. Louis
• University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor
• UPMC-University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
• Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville
• Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, Calif.
• University of Chicago Medical Center
• Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
• Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Conn.

July 13, 2008

Pollution board slaps notices on hospitals, nursing homes

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) has issued warning notices to some nursing homes and hospitals for not adhering to bio-waste management norms.
Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

as amended in 2000 by the Centre mandates proper segregation, treatment, transport and disposal of the infectious bio-medical wastes for the safeguard of public health.

The onus of ensuring proper treatment of such wastes lies squarely with the hospitals and nursing homes. The municipalities and private bodies are only supposed to pick up and transport duly treated bio-medical wastes for disposal at the municipal dumping site.

According to Chief Scientist of the WBPCB Dipak Chakraborty, while two private nursing homes have been given ‘closure notice’ with a one-month time period, the others have been heavily fined for not segregating the bio-medical waste in an eco-friendly manner.

At an interactive session, which was organised by Concern for Calcutta, a non-governmental organisation, alongwith WBPCB and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), experts stressed on the need for better and stricter monitoring.

Apart from the two hospitals, notices have also been issued to a few other medical establishments. They were also fined Rs 50,000 for spreading pollution with bio-medical wastes.

While the nursing homes are located in the Ekbalpore and Kidderpore area, the hospital is located in Ultadanga.

Chakraborty said: “We had issued notices to several hospitals and nursing homes after finding that they were not segregating bio-medical wastes properly before disposal. A nursing home in Salt Lake has been issued a closure notice within a month.”

Though the nursing homes claimed they segregate and mutate the waste following the safety measures before disposing them off through a private agency, WBPCB’s inspection revealed otherwise.

July 12, 2008

Intel’s “Health Guide” Gets Approved By FDA

Chronic patients can now thank Intel Corp for better health care. The world’s biggest computer chip company recently won clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for “Health Guide”, an in-home health management system.

Health Guide is a complete medical care system. It allows health care professionals to manage and monitor their patients at home through an online system of video conferencing and email.

The system envelopes all tools needed for personalized health care management, like vital sign collection, patient reminders and multimedia educational content and feedback. It can connect to specific models of medical devices that can be either wired or wireless, including blood pressure monitors, glucose meters, pulse oximeters, peak flow meters and weight scales.

The Health Guide also has inbuilt systems to store information regarding its patient. It is complete with a touch screen to display information. A secure server allows professionals to review all necessary medical information.

The system will initially be marketed to insurance companies, health care providers and governments. According to initial studies, the money saving system has got good responses from clinicians and the elderly.

Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Health Group, said, "The elders like it because it's intuitive and they're an active participant in what's going on with their health," Generally the older patients are used to being asked to take a backseat when it comes to their own health care.

He also stated that the focus of the project connecting a billion patients who have chronic conditions with their caregivers at home. According to Andrew Rocklin, principal of Chicago-based Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, the Intel system could be expanded its new medical systems to incorporate discharged patients as well as people looking to indulge in a healthy lifestyle.

Health Guide is expected hit the commercial medical markets in the United States and the UK late this year or early next year.

Andrew Rocklin believes Intel’s success secrets lies in its ability to sell its products broadly and establish itself as an industry standard. He quoted "Even one big insurance company, or even better consortia of insurance companies, could start driving scale."

Intel’s projects seems to be taking flight already with its shares, which are among the most actively traded on the NASDAQ, going up by 15 cents to $19.96.

AP: Health tips on toll-free '104' soon

Health minister Sambani Chandra Sekhar on Friday said the government would launch a toll-free number '104' soon to provide health tips.

Speaking at the 'World Population Day' programme here, the minister said the government had also decided to conduct health check ups in rural areas once every month. A special medical camp would be held at a village located at a distance of three kilometer from the primary health centre (PHC).

He also said that government had decided to appoint 600 doctors in rural areas in addition to the existing 3,000 doctors. A notification would be issued soon in this regard. The government would deploy a '108 ambulance' at each mandal. For this purpose, 150 more ambulances would be acquired soon. He claimed that A P was one of the top states in the country in conducting family planning operations. During the last 10 years, about 78 lakh family planning operations were conducted in the state.

July 10, 2008

For doctors, post graduation now a long & rustic journey

Doctors will have to have a rural stint for a year before getting their masters degree in medicine. Beginning next academic session, doctors will have to undergo a mandatory additional one-year rural internship as part of their post graduate (PG) degree in medicine. At present, PG in medicine is a three-year course, which most doctors pursue to specialise in niche areas.

It is learnt that health minister A Ramadoss has already cleared a proposal to make mandatory one-year rural internship services for PG. The Medical Council (IMC) of India is preparing the guidelines and the government is planning to implement the new rules from the next academic session.

“After being cleared by the health minister, the proposal has been sent to the state medical councils. Once the guidelines are issued by the IMC, the states would have to mandatorily follow them. MCI is in the process of drafting the new guidelines,” a senior health ministry official said. When contacted, an IMC official said that the guidelines would be issued in some time. The new policy of extension of medical PG by an additional year would require an amendment to the regulations guiding the PG courses.

Last year, the government had planned one-year mandatory rural internship in MBBS. However, following strong protests from medical fraternity the government decided to roll back the proposal.

Medical fraternity was of the view that mandatory rural service in PG course is fine, provided the final degree given is also accordingly modified. Hence, the government has gone ahead with the idea of including an extra year in the PG programme. In countries like the US and Russia, students become doctors of medicine (MD) at the end of an eight-year course.

The government feels that the move will help to partly fill the huge shortage of medical services in rural areas. India has a high infant mortality rate and inadequacy of doctors in many states. According to a recent government survey, Bihar and Jharkhand have just 0.48 healthcare professionals per 1,000 people while the norm is 2.25 for every 1,000 population.

Rajasthan has 1.31 and Assam has 1.37 professionals per 1,000 people. In terms of hospitals, too, rural areas are far behind urban areas. According to recent planning commission report, India has shortage of around 6 lakh doctors.

GO... DO IT

At present, PG in medicine is a three-year course.

Government is planning to implement the new rules from next academic session.

Extension of PG would need amendment to regulations guiding the PG courses.

Government feels that the move will help to partly fill huge shortage of medical services in rural areas.

July 04, 2008

Village health workers to get rapid HIV test kits in India

Thousands of village health workers across India will soon be equipped to conduct AIDS tests through rapid HIV test kits, which need just a prick on a person's fingertip and the results are known in 20 minutes.

“We have recently adopted the Whole Blood Fingerprick Testing Technology (WBFTT) and have piloted the project in a few districts. We hope it will be rolled out across the country by early 2009,”said Ajay Khera, Joint Director of the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).

NACO is the apex agency under the Union Health Ministry to curb, control and treat HIV/AIDS. It spreads awareness among people about HIV/AIDS though information and education campaigns.

“This will allow the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) visiting families in rural India to conduct HIV tests on people willing to do it. I am sure, it will revolutionise the concept of AIDS testing and help give a better picture of the disease,” Khera told IANS.

He said since the health workers have good relations with the villagers and have access to families, equipping them for HIV tests would go a long way in reducing fear of the disease. “If ANMs finds some one positive, then the person can come to the nearby Integrated Counselling And Testing Centre (ICTC) for confirmed tests and further counselling,” he explained.

Currently India is home to at least 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients and there are nearly 4,500 ICTC centres.

The new technology does not require separating serum and red blood cells from the blood sample, as is the practice now. This will help save time and reduce workload at ICTCs.

At present people are called to the testing centre, counselled and then their blood samples are collected. They are then asked to come the next day to collect their report. “But with the new technology, we can save much time,” Khera added.

He said a pilot project to study its effectiveness is being conducted in 10 districts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. As soon as the pilot project's results come in, it will be rolled out across the country.

HC directs Govt to provide site for bio-medical wastes

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the State government and the municipal corporation to provide a site for dumping bio-medical waste.

Division Bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice V M Kanade was hearing a public interest litigation filed by an NGO against improper disposal of bio-medical wastes.

The PIL contends that though 1998 rules provide for specific ways in which bio-medical waste should be dealt with, hospitals across Maharashtra do not take the rules seriously, which can pose health hazards.

The judges said that it was the obligation of the State government and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to make sure that the bio-medical was disposed in the manner prescribed by the 1998 rules.

The judges also asked the State government to consider the MPCB's requirement of staff as well as funds and take a decision within six weeks.

MPCB had informed the court earlier that they were short of staff and funds.

MPCB's counsel Shrihari Aane informed the court that there were 884 institutions across the state that have not applied for authorisation under the rules.

Out of these, they were considering action against 318 hospitals while prosecution has been initiated against 24 institutions, he said.

July 03, 2008

B.C. Roy awards for 55 doctors

President Pratibha Patil presented the B.C. Roy National Awards for Medicine to eminent doctors at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Tuesday. The doctors were felicitated for their contribution to medical research, teaching and development of specialities in various branches of medicine.

The awards for 2005, 2006 and 2007 were given to 55 doctors for their contribution to various medical disciplines, including psychiatry, gastroenterology, oncology, urology and cardiology.

Some of the eminent doctors who received the awards include cardiologists Naresh Trehan and K.K. Agrawal, gastroenterologist Ajay Kumar of Apollo hospital, AIIMS endocrinologist Anoop Misra and oncologist Lalit Kumar.

Dr. S.M. Balaji, the maxillofacial surgeon from Chennai, was among the recipients.

Dr. Rayapu Ramesh Babu, Dr. P. K. Bilwani and Dr. Prakash B. Behere were honoured with the award for their contribution to socio-medical relief. For their contribution to medical research, Prof. P. Varalakshmi, Dr. R.K. Dhiman and Dr. S.R. Mittal were awarded.

Dr. Anupam Sachdeva received it for his research in medicine and allied sciences.

Dr. Alka Kriplani, Dr. A.K. Mahapatra, Dr. Drupad Nautamlal Chhatrapati and Dr. Ganesh Gopalakrishnan were honoured with the award for medical teaching

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