Thanks to the increasing proliferation of medical institutions and the absence of an effective regulatory mechanism, medical negligence goes virtually unchallenged in India, resulting in damage to precious lives.
In the wake of such a disturbing scenario, the Supreme Court judgment awarding a huge compensation of Rs. 5.96 crore — payable by AMRI hospitals and three doctors — to a U.S.-based doctor whose wife died following faulty treatment will surely send a clear message. Another area that needs to be looked into is the prescription of new drugs to unsuspecting patients. The nexus of medical representatives working for multinational institutions and doctors needs to be brought under the scanner.
It is not enough to grant monetary compensation to victims of medical negligence. Hospitals and doctors should be tried under the relevant law. The medical profession is noble and prestigious. But it has become increasingly commercial.
Dr. Kunal Saha has shown the way. But everyone is not Dr. Saha who had enough confidence and education on medical science — most important, economic support — to fight it out in court. A large number of poor, illiterate people who rush for better treatment to private hospitals become victims of greed and irresponsibility. If consumer protection forums, the local administration and courts can play an active role in coming to their rescue, ordinary people will be benefited.
Uttam K. Bhowmik,
Dr. Saha needs to be appreciated for his perseverance in taking the case to the highest court and getting a landmark judgment. It has certainly enhanced the value of human life. The fear of Dr. S. Sundararajan (Letters, Oct. 28) that such verdicts will make doctors order more tests and increase the cost of treatment is unfounded. A competent and honest doctor would know when to ask for a test and when not to.
If doctors ask patients to go for more tests, many of them unnecessary, it is not because they want to be careful and rule out certain conditions; it is because they want to enrich themselves. Labs and scan centres in Tiruchi and Chennai that do not provide a cut to the doctor can be counted on our fingers.
The Institute of Medicine (U.S.) defines a medical error or adverse effect or event as an injury caused by medical or surgical management rather than the underlying illness of the patient.
Once the errors are recognised, their causes should be analysed so that preventive measures can be taken. A system should be evolved so that all medical errors can be reported to a body of medical experts in every State through the State Medical Council. This will improve the quality of medical care.
Dr. L.T. Arasu,