KOCHI: Are doctors in Kerala dying young, mostly of life-style related ailments? Yes, if the Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association is to be believed. IMA’s social security schemes show that 45 doctors died last year and over half of them were below 50. Most deaths were triggered by heart-related issues caused by excessive stress and in some cases, cancer. But the statistics pertain only to those doctors covered under the various welfare schemes floated by IMA-Kerala for its members.
The actual numbers could be much higher as IMA- Kerala has a membership of 25,000, of which many are not registered under any of the schemes. The number of doctors who are not a part of IMA fraternity is even higher. As of now, the number of doctors registered under Travancore Cochin Medical Council stands at 44,990.
“Stress is the main villain and doctors are no exception to lifestyle-triggered disorders. Increasing competition, high expectations, lack of faith in doctors, a social psyche that doctors and hospitals are working only towards profit - all these create a tense condition for doctors to operate in,” says Dr T S Siddharthan, general physician, health department, Mulanthuruthy Community Centre.
Nowadays, just an MBBS degree is not enough to establish as a doctor. Following government policies and acquiring specializations take years and by the time doctors are qualified enough to gain trust of the patients and start earning a living, they would easily be in their 30s. “Today, people come as customers and treat us as service- providers, questioning and demanding cures we offer,” says Dr Abraham Varghese, president, IMA-Kochi and CMO at Ghanshyam Binani Health Centre.
“The pressure on doctors is increasing. The stress, strain and tensions in dealing with various treatment procedures do take a toll on us,” he adds. A look into the IMA records shows that the welfare scheme works pretty much like any other insurance cover, but comes much cheaper. The beginning premium ranges from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 in the first year if the doctor is below 30 years; it goes up only marginally for the 45-50 age bracket from Rs 2,500 to Rs 10,000, depending on the kind of cover the doctor wants. But the subsequent premium depends on the number of deaths each year.
According to Dr Narayanan, paediatrician at Ernakulam Medical Centre, of late, there had been many cases of doctors being accused of negligence and families of patients demanding compensation.