60 per cent donated organs go to private hospitals
negligence of govt hospitals allow private sector to make huge business
Chennai, July 31: Organs donated by brain dead people benefit patients in private hospitals more than in government hospitals. Statistics available with the Tamil Nadu Cadaver Transplant Programme (TNCTP) reveals that 60 per cent of the organs harvested from the brain dead end up in private hospitals because very few government hospitals have registered for organ transplant programme.
Experts say that the negligence shown by government hospitals to register for the transplant programme and the delay in enrolling additional doctors in government hospitals are intended to allow the private hospitals to take advantage of lucrative organ transplant surgery in Tamil Nadu. Other reason is government doctors experienced in transplant procedure preferring private hospitals with better facilities and salaries.
Of the 58 hospitals registered for kidney transplant in Tamil Nadu, only seven are government hospitals whereas 51 private hospitals offer this facility, according TNCTP. In the case of liver transplant, among the 12 registered hospitals, just two are in the government sector. Heart transplant facility is no different from other organ transplant hospitals. 11 out of 12 hospitals carrying out heart transplant are in the private sector.
A senior health department official said that lack of sophisticated equipment and facilities, including labs, are major factors for the low percentage of organ transplantation in government hospitals. “In the case of private hospitals, transplantation department is a cash cow. It is equipped with updated technologies. Whereas in government hospitals one nephrologist has to attend to several patients and kidney transplant becomes an additional work. This is same with other transplants too,” the official said.
Reasoning how private hospitals are in the forefront in transplantation, a senior retired health department official pointed out that many doctors who join the government hospitals gain experience only to enrich their knowledge and leave for private hospitals. “The scene in Coimbatore government hospital is a case in point. In the last three years, four doctors who joined the urology department left in a short time and joined private hospitals,” recalled the official.
Private hospitals exploit patients; make a killing
Though the norm is that the receiver does not pay for the organ, private hospitals add up the bills for the organ transplant surgeries in the name of room service, medical reports, post-operative care charges and so on, say activists. There is a need to fix uniform fee in all hospitals based on the facilities instead of allowing them to fleece patients.
Dr.G.Ravindranath, state general secretary, Doctors Association for Social Equality, said that the brand image of the hospital determines the size of the bill. “There is no regulation of medical bill charged by hospitals. While private insurance companies determine the expenses for treatment and surgeries, the government could do it in a professional manner. When kidney transplant in a popular private hospital costs Rs. 6 lakhs, the same is performed for a little less in a hospital in Madurai. Liver transplant would cost up to Rs.40 lakhs in a well known corporate hospital in Chennai and another hospital charges between 30 and Rs.35 lakhs,” he said.
Madurai based RTI activist C.Anand Raj, who campaigns for uniform fee fixation for private hospitals, said, “Similar to fee fixation committee for private schools, a committee should be formed to fix fee for private hospitals. There are 20 government medical colleges. But compared to private hospitals, very few transplants are performed in government hospitals. This makes patients from middle class and lower middle class to queue up in private hospitals and spend all the money for the treatment.” He said that several corporate hospitals register for organ transplant and make huge profits. They receive patients from other states also.