Qatar to investigate alleged abuses by doctors

February 18, 2011

Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH) is investigating a series of complaints alleging that private physicians and clinics forced their patients to undergo unnecessary medical tests for financial gains.

“We have received several complaints of this sort and an elaborate investigation is going on,” Dr Jamal Rashid Al Khanji, director of the Medical Licensing Department, said.

“This is a very serious offense and involves a violation of medical ethics. If the allegations are found true, the accused will face stern action,” he told Qatari daily The Peninsula.

Punitive action could include blacklisting the practitioners in Qatar and across the Arab world and cancelling their professional licences.

The Permanent Licensing Committee has recently blacklisted two private physicians for issuing fake sick leave certificates.

“We have no problem about physicians having agreements with laboratories for doing medical tests for their patients. However, if they strike a mutual partnership to exploit the patients, it becomes a serious issue. We have come across some such complaints,” he said.

No one will be punished without a proper investigation, but practitioners and medical facilities must not be involved in such illegal practices, he said.

However, some members of the medical fraternity believe that it would not be easy to penalise physicians based on such complaints since they could justify their act by citing the medical condition of the patients. Investigators would not be able to challenge their claims in the absence of fool-proof evidence, which normally is hard to find in such cases, the daily said.

Al Khanji said there were also complaints about laboratories charging for tests that were not actually conducted.

“For instance, a laboratory can levy the fee for an elaborate blood test without doing all the required tests. Most patients would not be educated enough to detect such foul play.”

Some insurance companies have complained about private physicians and clinics conducting unnecessary medical tests for their patients to charge extra fees, Al Khanji said.

Reacting to claims that insurance companies could level such allegations to get their costs reduced, Al Khanji said that “insurance companies have their own mechanism to assess the medical requirements of their clients.”

“If the doctors have complaints about these companies, we are ready to look into that. Investigations involves all parties — insurance companies, physicians, clinics, patients and laboratories,” he said.

Mobile users in Qatar will soon be able to access information about licensed health care practitioners and facilities in the country through a handheld application, The Peninsula reported on Thursday.

The Supreme Council of Health (SCH), in collaboration with telecommunication and IT companies are working on a project to make the service available on all the new generation mobile phones. The service is expected to be launched by June.

Users of smart phones such as iPhone and BlackBerry will be able to download a special software where they can search for and locate a clinic or physician whenever they need their service, a senior SCH official said.

“If you are looking for a clinic while driving, the system will show you the nearest facility available and guide you to that location using the Global Positioning System (GPS),” the official said.

The system will also provide a rating of the practitioner done by the people. After visiting the facility, the user can give his own rating for the service and the treatment that he received there.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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