A cure for medical malpractice

Amid mounting pressure from the affected families and the attendant media glare:

  • A public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court. The PIL demands the regulation of India’s unregulated private health sector, from neighbourhood clinics to corporate hospitals, under Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. 
  • In 1978, India signed the Alma Ata Declaration at the World Health Assembly, promising “Health for All” by 2000. Following up on that promise, with the aim of reaching as many patients as possible, the Indian government sought to increase the number of hospitals in the country by roping in the private sector. It allowed banks to fund privately owned hospitals. In 1983, Prathap Reddy set up Apollo hospital in Chennai, and thus was born India’s first corporate hospital chain.

Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010:

  • The seeks to regulate all clinical establishments in India and set treatment guidelines for common diseases and conditions.
  • The States have to ratify this law and implement it.
  • While the law is in effect in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim and all the Union Territories (except the National Capital Region of Delhi) since March 1, 2012, most States haven’t made provisions to implement it.
  • In Haryana, for instance, where Arora, Singh and Parmar lost their children, the Act has been ratified but not implemented. In Delhi, it has been neither ratified nor implemented.

Indian Law:

  • In Indian law, a case of medical malpractice can be proved only by a committee of peers — by doctors who are members of various State Medical Councils.
  • “Doctors do not go on record against other doctors, and especially against corporate hospitals. Therein lies the problem with proving medical negligence cases.

MCI’s own data:

  • Since 2012, only 167 doctors have been temporarily blacklisted by the MCI, with the duration of the suspension ranging from three months to five years.
  • Not one doctor has lost his or her medical license permanently.
  • While information about the number of complaints received, disposed of, and pending is available in annual reports, data on action taken against doctors are not.

Pressure Group:

Campaign for Dignified and Affordable Healthcare;

  • A pressure group for sustained advocacy against medical negligence and malpratice. 
  • Every such meeting is an opportunity for the families to bond with each other, go into a huddle and come up with the best strategy to amplify their voice. As cameras were being set up, other families, new entrants to the pressure group, began briefing journalists about their own cases of medical malpractice.
  • They had also brought their lawyers with them. “The families learn from each other’s experience, while activists and lawyers come up with the best strategy to highlight each case. The brainstorming sessions between the families, lawyers and activists gives all of them hope. More importantly, it gives them a strategy.



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