Doctor-patient confidentiality took a whole new meaning at the Chaudhry Pervez Elahi Institute of Cardiology in Multan. Using the identity of a deceased MNA, submitting a fake NIC and even posing as the brother of health secretary, a patient, whose identity still remains a mystery, was allegedly provided free treatment by Medical Superintendent (MS) of the institute Dr Fazul Rehman.
According to official documents, the MS admitted the patient without disclosing his status or disease on November 10, 2011.
The NIC number of the mystery patient in the official record proved to be fake, with NADRA officials confirming that it does not exist in their database. A fake address was also provided for the patient.
A social officer, whose duty is to evaluate the financial status of patients to determine whether they deserve financial relief, had recommended that the patient would have to pay all expenses on his personal account.
In an odd chain of events, however, the mystery patient, who was first designated by the MS on his personal assent as an agriculturalist and then a doctor, was declared as “poor”.
To receive free treatment, patients who cannot afford the cost have to present a zakat certificate; however, no such document was presented for the mystery patient.
He was then, finally, declared an MNA and given ‘VVIP’ status and was to be provided free treatment as “gratis”.
The name of the patient listed was Faiz Muhammad Khan, an MNA from Mansehra of NA-21. However, the lawmaker of this name died in 2009.
Following the disclosure, the MS said the patient was the brother of then Punjab health secretary Jahanzaib Khan Yousufzai, and requested the MS of Nishtar Hospital Multan to give him maximum privileges.
He was even admitted in a private room in the cardiology institute, where he underwent an angioplasty.
Dr Rehman forwarded a request to the head of the Department of Psychiatry Prof Dr Naeem Leghari and head of Department of Medicine Prof Ijaz Hussain, both at Nishtar Medical College, to favour the patient.
Prof Hussain had written in his examination review that Dr Rehman had told him in person that he had received call from Health Secretary Yousufzai for the treatment of ‘his brother’.
In Nishtar Hospital’s official record, the patient was declared a resident of Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
When contacted, Dr Rehman said that he had not ‘investigated’ the patient because he was the health secretary’s brother.
Interestingly, Yousufzai denied the claim and said that he has no brother.
The patient was facilitated with free Drug Evaluating Stents at the MS Chaudhry Pervez Elahi Institute, in what was a clear violation of authority on Dr Rehman’s part.
The Drug Evaluating Stent costs about Rs128,000 each. All medical expenses of the mystery patient cost the institute about Rs1million.
The executive director of the cardiology institute said he had no knowledge of the incident.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2012.