Medicine & Doctors · Public health

Unsafe Medical Care and Preventable Healthcare-Related Errors in India

An op-ed written by me, titled ‘When Hospitals Breed Illness’, appeared in the Times of India on March 31 2016. Here is the link.

Below is an excerpt:

Such errors are not just about doctors and nurses committing a mistake – in fact they are hardly about individuals. Research has consistently shown that unsafe healthcare is more an administrative and systems-related issue. Poorly designed and poorly maintained healthcare systems create ‘accidents waiting to happen’: for instance, lack of a ‘culture of safety’, presence of counterfeit or substandard medicines, absent or faulty equipment, poor infection-control policies, doctors and nurses with insufficient or dated knowledge, and weak avenues for communication between patients and health personnel.

Besides, much systems-related harm is amplified in the Indian health system due to its unique, unflattering aspects. For example, many private medical and nursing colleges are notorious for granting degrees (hence the licence to practice) simply on the basis of receiving the required ‘fees’. India thus has hundreds of health professionals who lack even the basic knowledge to handle patients, naturally making medical errors more likely.

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