October 12, 2008

Chennai Doctors may need 2nd opinion for all surgeries

Soon doctors in Chennai will have to seek a second opinion every time they decide to put the patient under the scalpel. In a bid to monitor
and regulate healthcare, Chennai Corporation will dispatch letters to all hospitals by mid-October making it mandatory for them to seek external opinion before operating on a patient as well as videograph all surgeries and submit records in case of a patient's death.

"It will be made mandatory from November this year. We will strengthen our reporting system further. We will also insist on an autopsy if we are not convinced with the reason for death given by the hospital," said Chennai Corporation chief health officer Dr P Kuganantham. "The death audit system will make the online issuing of death certificates more efficient. Nearly 120 deaths are registered in the city daily. Most of the time, we find it difficult to comprehend the reasons for death. We will now seek specific reasons such as infections and botched-up surgeries. Our death audit will give us all this information," he said.

About 500 hospitals - government and private - are registered with Chennai Corporation for online entry of births and deaths.

The department wants to make it mandatory for hospitals to videograph all surgical procedures and make them available under the Right to Information Act. The idea was mooted after a study by the civic body found several hospitals lacked qualified anaesthetists and trained nurses. Space and ventilation and sanitation facilities were also found to be below standards.

Responses to the proposed supervision have been varied. Some like Dr T N Ravishankar, honorary secretary, Indian Medical Association, rejected it. "A surgeon would not want his opinion to be doubted. And what if the patient does not want a second opinion? If patients object to the procedure being videographed, should we force them? Who is going to bear the cost?" he said. Others like orthopaedic surgeon and Indian Journal Of Medical Ethics editor Dr George Thomas agreed with the authorities on some of the proposals.

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