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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

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22 July, 2007

Shobhaa De and Bipasha Basu’s boob job

Shobhaa De is appalled. It seems that Bipasha Basu got her “God-given breasts” enhanced before shooting for Jism, and did not pay the surgeon concerned. According to De, the doctor has now leaked the story to the press. De doesn’t have anything to say against Bipasha’s non-payment of dues, but thinks that the surgeon’s alleged leak is against ‘medical ethics’ and that it breaches conventions of patient-doctor confidentiality.

I don’t agree. Essentially, every interaction between a doctor and a patient takes place under the implicit contract that the doctor gets paid for his services, in return for which he do does the best job he can and stays quiet about it. By not paying him the Rs2.5 lakhs he was due, Bipasha breached that contract. In these circumstances, the doctor is not obliged to stay quiet about it. Until he gets paid, no contract is binding on him. Surely that’s obvious.

Indeed, he would be quite justified in asking for his silicone back. Such a sight that would make.

PS: Mid Day has before-and-after pics. What, not enough detail? Oh, go away, you.

Update (July 24): Arun Simha writes in (reproduced with permission):

Hi Amit,

I suspect you had a weekend brain fart, since you didn’t take the liberal position! :-))

The confidentiality clause does not rise as a result of any “contract”. It is implicit to the medical profession, and enforced by confidentiality laws in each country. See India.

In any case, as a game-theory exercise, the doctor has everything to lose by publicizing his surgery. Since he seems to get high profile clients, they would shirk in interacting with him. Many tabloids would pay for such info from this man. This act would not even serve as a deterrent for future patients. In fact, it could potentially give way to blackmail. What if a HIV patient’s doctor called him and asked for Rs.10.lacs, else he would “out him”?

Moreover, as a case study for medical outsourcing, this is appalling. Many foreigners would be appalled by this indiscretion and hope that it is a one-off.

Cheers

Arun

Fair point, but I’d still hold that the ethic of confidentiality is part of an implicit contract, whether between the doctor and the patient or between the medical profession and the rest of society. (That it is made explicit by the legal system in some cases is a bonus.) And the patient paying the doctor, unless the doctor is explicitly doing his job out of charity, is part of that contract—indeed, without it the patient-doctor relationship does not exist. If she doesn’t pay him, she’s breached the contract. I don’t see why the doctor should be held to it then. He’s the victim here. And the liberal position—I assume Arun means the classical liberal position—would surely be against the person who effectively stole the doctor’s services.

As for the game theory issue that Arun brings up, I disagree. The news that Bipasha Basu and Rakhi Sawant got their boobs enhanced by him will attract additional patients to the doctor. Social proof.

Also, do note that he may not actually have leaked the story in the first place—that is, as of now, only speculation on Shobhaa De’s part.

Posted by Amit Varma in Arts and entertainment

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