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Updated: August 24, 2012 11:18 IST

‘Patient a loser under consumer laws’

Shyama Rajagopal
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Dr. Rajesh C. Shah
The Hindu
Dr. Rajesh C. Shah

Consumer courts have failed to act as a real platform to settle medico-legal disputes, says Rajesh C. Shah, medico-legal expert who is the president of the Indian Hernia Society and International College of Surgeons.

“Hardly one per cent of the verdicts go against the doctors; patients are losing all the way,” he said.

Patients and society have been at the receiving end of the Consumer Protection Act. The law has failed to uphold the patients’ rights, he told The Hindu.

Dr. Shah, who was in the city to attend a meeting of the Indian Hernia Society, said “a patient is a loser when considered as a consumer in the court of law.”

According to Dr. Shah civil courts settle disputes between doctors and patients better. However, a civil court invites a court fee while in a consumer court there is no fee, said Dr. Shah.

Dr. Shah opined that the country should either have a national health service that would provide health care free of cost to any individual or have an insurance-backed health care facility so that patients are benefited.

While agreeing to the deterioration of the ethics in the medical fraternity, Dr. Shah said that it is a reflection of the society where the values have come down. Doctors are generated from within the society, he added. However, there are only a miniscule of miscreants who have managed to give a shoddy image to the whole medical fraternity, he said.

The doctors are forced to hike up their indemnity insurance in the face of consumer protection laws as the doctors’ service in treating a patient is considered as any other profession and does not have any immunity, Dr. Shah said.

On the issue of clinical trials, Dr. Shah said that the regulations of Indian Council of Medical Research are not enough considering the magnitude of the patients in the country. Research activity is good for the society, banning it is not a solution, he said. The idea is to have a fruitful research. It is sad that adequate funds are not allocated for such activity.

Coming down heavily on striking work by healthcare professionals, he said anyone opting to strike work is bad enough. “Failure of our system is that we have not developed a system to redress grievances”.

Professor and head of the department of Surgery at Sheth L. G. General Hospital and Amcmet Medical College, Ahmedabad, Dr. Shah said that advances in medical technology have brought in invasive technologies that have reduced surgical trauma. Surgeons resort to laparoscopic surgical treatments wherever possible, which has immensely benefitted patients, he added.

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