Speakers discuss trends in cases of medical negligence registered against doctors and hospitals
Usha Sharma – Mumbai
Institute of Medicine & Law recently organised the 8th Annual Medico Legal Review — 2016 in Mumbai. The event, supported by an educational grant from Emcure Pharmaceuticals, was attended by eminent doctors, hospital CEO’s, and others discussed trends in cases of medical negligence registered against doctors/ hospitals.
Dr Pravin Shingare, Director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research, spoke about the grey areas in public and private healthcare sector and the problems being faced by the doctors. He spoke about the government’s action plan in identifying bogus doctors and punishing them and added that the government is working aggressively towards reducing the cases of medical negligence in Maharashtra.
Dr Atul Shah, Ex-Secretary, Association of Plastic Surgeons of India, Director Medical Service – Solace Hospital, spoke about the medico legal issues being raised at regular intervals in both the houses of the Parliament. He expressed concern that doctors are not well versed with medical laws and about the need to create awareness amongst doctors and to update them.
Advocate Mayank Kshirsagar, Advocate Supreme Court, highlighted that Punjab leads in the number of medico legal cases followed by West Bengal and Maharashtra which is just one per cent behind West Bengal. Surprisingly, Chhattisgarh had now entered the top five states in medical litigation. He also emphasised that the courts are generally lenient towards doctors in deciding cases against doctors and spoke about several cases where courts have dismissed cases where doctors have acted out of good faith and without any wrong intention and did their best to serve the patient.
He also pointed out towards the latest trends regarding patients suing hospitals ‘only’ and not doctors. Kshirsagar also informed that the doctors are not liable for administrative lapses in case of a hospitalised patient whereas hospitals are always liable for negligence of their nurses, paramedics, employees, doctors, and anesthetists whether they are permanent or visiting, full-time or part-time. Besides these, he also shared some important do’s and dont’s for doctors and hospitals and emphasised the need for ‘documentation’ and to maintain proper records. While summing up, he raised a valid point on the need for doctor ‘judges’ who would be able to better appreciate the nuances in deciding such cases.
The keynote address was delivered by Mahendrakumar Bajpai-Advocate Supreme Court, and Director, Institute of Medicine and Law who highlighted some changes in deciding cases of medical negligence i.e.
- Concept of Eggshell Skull Doctrine applied in one case.
- Experience of the doctor specifically taken into account by the National Commission
- Commercialisation of medical services taken into account.
He also spoke about the right of hospitalised patients to buy medicines from any pharmacy outside the hospital. He emphasised that a patient cannot be forced to buy medicines from the hospital pharmacy. In all these cases, the hospital should keep a record for future reference so they are not held responsible for some mishap due to wrong/ spurious/ improper medications. He also pointed out that the patients were unhappy with surgeons going on leave immediately after surgery which is reflected in many cases. While signing off, he pointed out that there are rising allegations of delayed/ improper diagnosis, which have doubled against the previous year.
Ravindra Mangal, Associate Director – Strategic Initiatives, Institute of Medicine & Law delivered the vote of thanks.