Production line heart surgery in Bangalore

Dr. Devi Shetty

The Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore is the largest heart surgery hospital in the world. It has 1,000 beds, and last year it carried out a staggering 6,000 operations, half of them on children.

By contrast Great Ormond Street in London did less than 600.

“We are all products of the National Health Service in the UK, and what we learnt over there we have implemented in perhaps a slightly different manner,” says Dr Devi Shetty, India’s most famous heart surgeon, and the driving force behind the hospital.

“We believe that the only way is to build large hospitals – 100 or 200 beds are not going to be the solution for the current world health problem. We need to build large hospitals where hundreds of operations are carried out every day.”

And here in Bangalore, the theory appears to work. Despite the huge volume of operations, mortality rates are comparable with or better than those in Britain and the US, and costs are much lower…

In a series of wards upstairs, heart patients are recovering from surgery and waiting to go home. The average cost of surgery here is a fraction of what it costs in the West, and patients come to Bangalore from all over the world.

The very poorest are never turned away either…In other words, some patients are treated for a significant financial loss to the hospital. But the volume of operations is so large, that it still makes an overall profit.

Obviously subversive to God, the American Way and several other rationales for inflating costs.

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