In the big urge to sit up there with the "advanced countries", we ran rough shod across many things, without understanding them. It was a climb with an abnormally steep slope, and it involved jumping on to several bandwagons, aided greatly by an opened up economy, becoming an outsourcing capital, the onslaughts of IT hardware, cell phones, and miniaturized wonders from China.
Suddenly, the concept of what you thought "expensive" underwent a huge change. It was OK if clothes/makeup now cost half as much as a small flat, so long as they were authored by a European fashion house/designer. Watches no longer remained something you got for graduating, but became one of the several you wore and threw away. We appropriated Tomatino festivals because someone in Spain did it, and never mind that middle class housewives were in distress over the rising cost of tomatoes in a double digit inflation world. We started the showing of commercials on TV, like abroad, without worrying about something advanced countries have : a "truth in advertising" Act, and we showed "cassettes and CD's" and "soda" being substituted as words for alcohol ads of well known hard liquor companies and no one in control, bothered. We started showing dangerous things on TV, with a a warning running below in an ant size font, spoken in an unintelligible manner by some guy in a huge hurry, because that was the way to protect yourself. This applied to businesses too. In the big hurry to become world class, we simply skipped some things. The emphasis has been on external show, and unfortunately, what got ignored was the thinking inside, or as one might say, the anatomy inside.
One recently had the opportunity to function as a caretaker for someone who had some cardiac emergency procedures done in what is touted as a world class, XXXX credited hospital. Everything was very well organized, spic and span, constantly being monitored and cleaned, moved like clockwork, the technology worked seamlessly, the medical expertise and communication was excellent. Of course, the proclivity of us Indians to arrive in droves, full family in tow, to see patients, had the security folks at their wits end, one felt they needed some PR lessons in communication, but one let them be. This hospital has rules displayed all over the place, and they simply pointed out the rules.
Before we were discharged and left to go home, we had to fill in several feedback forms. One of the questions pertained to we being shown the "patients' charter of rights" . Well, we were not shown any such thing, so I was about to tick "No", when they hurried to present one sheet to me. I read through it, didn't think there was anything to crib about in that, and ticked "yes". Didn't want someone up there to chew out some dedicated nurse who was doing an excellent job of her nursing.
This morning, I returned to the hospital to ask for some detailed report , indicated by our office as a "reimbursement" requirement. Mind you the data was all there in their system. The menu to generate that report existed, and the front office fellow who could do that was yet to arrive . Fair enough.
The guy at the counter looks at me.
" We cannot give you a copy. We will email it to your section office." He fiddles with the mouse.
" Maybe you can email a copy to me ? " Me. Thinking it to be a routine thing.
" No Ma'am. We cannot email it to you . We always send it directly to the office in question." He gets a call and stops to answer it.
" Can I speak to your PRO, or even your Director ? I insist. This is data pertaining to medical procedures we underwent, what we paid for, our name is there, I have an ID in your system, and how can you refuse us this ? " Things are happening in a familiar way. I foresee a battle.
"Ma'am, they wont be here till an hour from now. But our superior should be here in 15 minutes, if you care to wait. " I park myself firmly at the counter. In a lifetime of standing in queues, and battling queue-jumpers, leaving a place at the top of the yet unformed queue, seems a bad idea.
There are a whole bunch of framed notices on the counter. One pertains to the aforementioned "patients' charter of rights". I read through the whole sheet, as I alternate between leaning from one foot to another. They urge me to sit.
But I have seen the charter of rights, item no 16, and I have seen the light. I stop leaning from one foot to another.
The adrenaline flows. There are wheels within wheels churning.
The guy finally arrives, a decent smiling chap. He has a look at my request. I repeat it. I need to mention the patients charter of rights. Item no 16, says, I have a right to my own clinical data. I straighten up, a few notches taller.....
"You see , you guys are refusing me something that is guaranteed to me by the patients charter of rights. My clinical data. By emailing it to someone else ( even if it is the concerned office ) without my permission, you are actually trespassing on the patient data confidentiality aspect ." ( I wasn't sure of this but said it anyway. Most of the time the other side doesn't understand anyway).
The fellow looks up. "Ma'am , let me see. "
"No. I insist on a hard copy first. You may email it later to the office with my express permission, with a copy to me , so i can check the version. Else , I am writing to your board, about violation of my rights as a patient. Whats more, I am approaching the consumers court about this, and will not hesitate to file a query under RTI. " (I wasn't sure what I was going to ask under RTI, but said it anyway. I could think about that later. In this day and age, RTI was the magic word....)
The fellow went in with the paper. Another guy comes out and asks me to wait for 5-10 minutes. The stuff is being processed.
I get my report in the next 5 minutes !
And I wondered what would have happened if it was someone not familiar with reading these framed notices. He/she would have got overawed with all the presumed sophistication, would have never known who the clinical data was being sent to, what was sent , despite the fact that one paid through one's nose for the entire hospital stuff.
Sometimes, folks just keep quiet, thinking that whatever the counter types are saying is the gospel truth. Some may think it is better to just shut up and let them do whatever they say, because they don't want to be seen having an argument, regardless of the fact that they are being wronged. They would have made several trips between the hospital and the reimbursing authority, and been , maybe, but hopefully not, taken for a ride.
Is it too much to ask, that there be no doubt when I ask for access to data pertaining to myself /us ? When it is an individual filing in an office for reimbursement of the hospital expenses as per rules, , doesn't it make sense to have all the hospital papers routed through the applying person ? On what basis did the guys refuse at first ?
I admit I threw in the RTI bit just to see the effect. It did no harm. Like they say these days when they present some new thing, no trees were killed in the process, no pollution was caused, no flora and fauna was destroyed, etc etc
I foresee several guys rushing inside or suddenly occupying themselves otherwise when they sight me approaching the counter next.
I just hope I don't have to go to any hospital soon, anytime in the near future.......