While at it, not only my parents, my teachers, my Government, my society and MCI all are cheats. As a 17-18 year old I was primed and pushed to do MBBS given the impression that it was only after MBBS that I could practise modern medicine and be called “Doctor” in real sense. I tried and failed in the first attempt having reached upto waiting list of two medical colleges. More than anything else this “just there but not quite” phenomenon goaded me to drop one year to do pre-engineering and then try for both MBBS and B Tech, as well as B Arch next year. Next year having secured a seat in all three, the fact of having missed my MBBS seat by a whisker in first attempt probably made me join MBBS.
Unfortunately for me, I had not met Mr Khattar (Manohar Lal Khattar) then nor heard of him (Chief Minister of Haryana who has approved the notification that AYUSH can prescribe Modern Medicine). I was also not aware that it would be possible for me to have done an Ayurvedic, Unani or Homeopathic degree and later be permitted to practice modern medicine and be called “Doctor” in the real sense. All these degrees were available to me then and I did not have to waste one year to get into MBBS. I need the Government and MCI to compensate me for my one youthful year lost.
MBBS also is the toughest graduate course and this is a well-acknowledged fact. The four and a half plus one year slogging to get through this toughest of courses played havoc with my psyche, I lost my youth to it, did not attend about 20 cousins’ weddings, most of my uncles’/aunts’ and other relatives’ deaths. All this could have been avoided if I was clearly told by my Government and MCI that “Son, you can do a much easier course like, BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery), GAMS (Graduate of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery), BHMS (Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery) etc, enjoy life and we will later allow you all privileges of an MBBS doctor”. For this loss of youth, I need to be compensated.
MBBS over I considered myself “GOD” tried my hand at being a doctor in a village hospital and messed up bad. My ego was badly battered and I was made to realize that to be a real “Doctor” I need a post MBBS specialized degree or at the very least to work and train in a teaching hospital. Then came three gruelling years of training in cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology and nephrology. Post training I was made to take a tough theory followed by practical examination in all these fields and then awarded a degree MD (Internal Medicine). I did not consider it important then that the degree did not mention my training in cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology etc.
Now I am told an MD (Medicine) doctor who is trained in Cardiology, given theory and practical exam in Cardiology is a cheat if he calls himself a cardiologist. It is more galling that this is done by a friend who for years has known the degree and qualification of his doctor friend and has availed his services as happened in case reported recently from Karnataka. Either an MD (Medicine) who in his training during MD was “only” MBBS can treat cardiology patients in ICCU, or he cannot. If he as MBBS and I as MD (Medicine) cannot then I was cheated by Punjab University and MCI (Medical Council of India) into wasting my youth training in cardiology when I was not going to become a cardiologist after the training. This then again needs to be compensated to me because I have suffered mental trauma, physical exhaustion and disturbed psyche having been made to work 100-hour weeks in the name of training in Cardiology when I had taken admission and paid fee for training only in “Medicine”.
We have a very limited tubular vision both as doctors and as a part of society. There are at least 200 MD (Medicine) Cardiologists (If not more) in any Tier I city. Also, there are, to my knowledge, three judgments in this regard — one from Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, one from the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and now this one from Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum). These judgments are conflicting. MCI has answered this question in its Ethics Committee meetings in reply to an RTI query stating that a doctor can work in a specialty to the extent for which he is trained but he should not call himself a “cardiologist”. A crime is a crime and if writing MD (Med) Physician and Cardiologist is a crime then at least 6000 plus doctors need to go to prison or their registrations suspended. No government hospital in Punjab including teaching institutes has a qualified DM (Cardiology) present. Same is the situation in UT Chandigarh outside the teaching institutes. All patients of heart attack treated in these government hospitals and so many others across the country should be approached to ask for compensation from the state for this “Gross Negligence” on part of their treating doctors, hospitals and authorities who manage them.
Even my associations like API (Association of Physicians of India) need to compensate me for training me in complex interventional cardiology procedures during their conferences and workshops giving me the false sense of being a cardiologist if at the end of the day I am not.
How much should the compensation be for my lost youth and premature old age, loss of a part of my life, damaged psyche, mental trauma, and physical disease brought on by stress and exposure to patients not my specialization to treat (even tuberculosis will need to be treated by DM (Pulmonology). I have set a conservative figure of Rs 10 crore which I ask my Government / MCI / Punjab University / API to compensate me so that I can retire from being a “Cardiologist” and give up my state medical council registration and then practice Neurosurgery because I have seen it being performed in movies.
Dr Neeraj Nagpal
Convenor, Medicos Legal Action Group
Managing Director, MLAG Indemnity
Ex-President, IMA Chandigarh