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Indian Express
11 August 2010
By Teena Thacker
New Delhi, India

Flooded with complaints of "unnecessary investigations" resulting in "over treatment" in hospitals, the Union Health Ministry has decided to formulate "standard treatment guidelines" for all major diseases which would have to be followed by both private and government hospitals.

In a meeting on Tuesday, Health Secretary K Sujatha Rao discussed a broad framework with health experts comprising doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Fortis hospitals, Public Health Foundation of India, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital and insurance companies’ representatives. Before the experts meet next week again, they will shortlist major diseases which are seen to be affecting the Indian population frequently and require hospitalisation and expensive treatment like cardiology, cardiac surgery, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, etc.

"These guidelines will be followed by both private and government hospitals and will help bring down incidence of unnecessary treatment which is witnessed by many these days," Rao told The Indian Express. "Once the guidelines are out, the common man would know what kind of quality he should expect, what to expect. Over treatment will stop," he added.

A senior doctor who attended the meeting, however, said the guidelines would not lead to parity in cost of treatment among private and government hospitals. The ministry is also working on a plan to interlink all hospitals – government and private – so that referring a patient from one to another is made easy.

Experts have welcomed the plan. "Guidelines have been made by associations, this is the first time that the government has initiated the process. Once formulated, the management of disease would be made uniform, which will help patients," said Dr Upendra Kaul, executive director and dean of Fortis Escorts Hospital.

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