Doctors Must Be Dealt Strictly for Medical Negligence: Supreme Court

Ipsita Mishra

The Supreme Court decided to award around Rs 11 crore as compensation to the plaintiff, Anuradha Saha Medical Negligence case. The compensation amount is highest in India till date. India’s healthcare sector is in poor shape. There has been a weak regulatory regime even. Thus patients are left at the mercy of a venal system with few alternatives. The medical profession is of technical nature. Victims fear that reporting cases of malpractice will deny them of any future treatment. Monetary compensation for cases of medical negligence is a useful way of balancing out the equation between health service providers and common man. Though health insurance services are provided, the cost of medical negligence for victims and their families is far greater. The Supreme Court stated that the doctors and medical establishments must be dealt with strictly for their negligence in giving treatment to patients.

The doctors, hospitals and the connected establishments are to be dealt with strictly if they are found to be negligent with the patients who come with money although they are not capable of paying them the huge amount of sum. The patients are to be treated with dignity. It is a human right along with the fundamental right. The Medical Council of India regulates the conduct of doctors and hence an impartial and strict scrutiny is expected from the council. The institutions and individuals providing medical services to the public at large to avoid any misfortune must update themselves about any new medical discipline and rare diseases. This decision would act as deterrent to people associated with medicine and do not take their responsibility seriously.

However there have been counterviews in this regard too. This will make treatment costlier. India might soon see its version of defensive medicine. The doctor might be protected from malpractice litigation while the patient might not recover. Given the glacial pace of justice delivery in India, the impact the fear of legal liability will have on well-intentioned doctors should be thought about. Damage to reputation is immediate while acquittal will take forever. Doctors will inevitably look to insure themselves against potential liability. The cost of insurance will surely be passed on to patients. Healthcare in India has always been very expensive. It will be even more expensive.

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