Saturday, May 20, 2017

Winds of change - 4

(This is the fourth part of a short story which is entirely a work of fiction.)

“May I come in, sir?” The Procurement Manager from the Inventory department asked Dr. Som.

From time to time, the Inventory Department would try to procure, at lower costs, consumables for procedures and various drugs that were used within the hospital. That way, the hospital could make  slightly higher profits without increasing the cost to the patients. However, there was always a risk of unscrupulous manufacturers trying to push some inferior quality products in the guise of reducing costs. To avoid this, Dr. Som had put a process in place where the Head of Department of each specialty would take ownership of the quality of the products being used or prescribed by the department.

The Procurement Manager had come to him that morning to introduce a lower cost catheter that was used to start dialysis on a patient who needed it urgently. Dr. Som took a look at the catheter. He asked the usual questions.

“Have we used products from this company before?”

“Yes sir. We use their Foley’s Catheters.”

“Any feedback gathered from other hospitals or doctors?”

“No sir, they are introducing this for the first time.”

“What is the price benefit?”

“About 15% sir.”

“I don’t think we should take a chance on a new product for 15%.”

“Sir, maybe we can try a few pieces. If it does not work well, we can refuse?”

“No. Catheters are sensitive products. If something goes wrong, it can be very bad.”

“Ok, sir.”

Within half an hour, Dr. Som got a call from Vasudha. Vasudha asked why he rejected the catheter? Dr. Som explained that this was new to the market and wondered why they should be the guinea pigs. Let someone else try it and and then we can think about it.

Vasudha argued with him about how they need to encourage new manufacturers who are no different from them. She asked Dr. Som how patients had to try Narayana Hospital in the early days for them to even begin being trusted. If everyone would wait for others to try them out, how would they ever begin to succeed? Dr. Som said that trying someone new for catheters was very risky. He was not going to sign off on this. She could do as she pleased as CEO.

Vasudha hung up. She asked the Procurement Manager to go ahead and get some catheters for the hospital to try out.

Dr. Som, however, refused to try those catheters in procedures he did. He allowed other doctors to use them but gave strict instructions to his team not to give him those catheters to use.

Dr. Som kept an eye out on any reports of issues faced with that brand of catheter. Nothing at all was reported. After a few weeks, Vasudha asked Dr. Som if they could change the brand of the catheter to the new one since no reports of issues were found. Dr. Som could not find any reason to refuse. He sheepishly agreed.

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