Doctors in government hospitals protested against the action demanded against some of their colleagues who had prescribed drugs that had to be purchased externally.
The fresh blast was sparked after Health Minister Harish Rao, who made a surprise visit to the maternity ward of Sultan Bazaar government hospital on Saturday, ordered officials to take action against a pediatrician and another doctor for prescribing drugs that were not available at the hospital.
Sources said Maternity Superintendent K. Rajya Lakshmi had asked the Minister of Health not to take action against the two.
However, that didn’t stop a volley of questions from other government hospital doctors. They objected that doctors should be blamed for prescribing drugs that were needed but not available in the hospital.
The list of drugs in shortage in some public hospitals was broadcast on social networks on Sunday. “What are we supposed to do when a particular drug is needed in an emergency but is not available in said hospital? Saving the patient is our priority,” said a doctor.
HRDA Chairman K. Mahesh Kumar questioned whether the government was providing all drugs efficiently and why private pharmacies in government hospitals were still operating.
“Who is responsible if doctors follow the government’s instruction not to prescribe outside drugs and something happens to the patient? Will the Minister of Health take his responsibilities? asked Dr. Mahesh Kumar.
Sources in government hospitals and the Ministry of Health said there are two forms of funds that are supposed to be used to buy drugs that are in short supply or drugs that are rarely used.
“Of the funds allocated for the procurement of drugs, 80% goes to the Telangana State Medical Services and Infrastructure Development Corporation (TSMIDC) and 20% to hospitals. In addition, hospitals receive funds to perform medical procedures under the Aarogyasri health program. This leaves administrations with sufficient resources to purchase the few drugs that are not available in health facilities. Not all drugs from all companies would be available in a hospital,” a source said.
It was learned that instructions had been given to superintendents to distribute the list of drugs available in central pharmacies. Another instruction was issued to write the molecule name of drugs rather than brand names.