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‘Anuradha’s death due to medical negligence must have a bigger purpose in life’

Dr Kunal Saha, a US-based professor and private consultant in HIV/AIDS, is known for his struggle against a case in which his wife, Anuradha Saha, died at the age of 36 at Kolkata-based Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI) of medical negligence on May 28, 1998.

Dr Kunal Saha

Since the incident, Dr Saha has travelled tirelessly between US and Kolkata, between the Supreme Court, Calcutta High Court and other lower courts in hope of bringing the culprits of medical negligence to justice.

His quest for justice was finally answered on October 24, when the Supreme Court, in a major ruling, awarded him Rs 6.08 crore for the death of his wife.

Dr Saha is also president of Kolkata-based NGO – People for Better Treatment, an initiative that was launched with an aim to eradicate medical negligence and promote corruption-free healthcare in India. He is also known for his open criticism against misadministration in medical governing bodies.

In an exclusive interview with India Medical Times, Dr Kunal Saha narrated his struggle to go against all odds and expressed his satisfaction on the Supreme Court verdict.

What exactly happened to your wife, Anuradha Saha?

Anuradha was afflicted with a disease, which in a layman’s term may be called as “drug allergy”. There are various types of drug allergies. The type she had is medically known as “toxic epidermal necrolysis” (TEN), which could happen as an allergic reaction to almost any drug or non-drug like vitamins and even gin and tonic. After her death, I have done extensive research on this area and even published a review article in the Indian Journal of Dermatology in 2000.

The people named in different cases in this relation (civil and criminal) are Dr Sukumar Mukherjee, a senior medicine specialist based in Kolkata who is presently the “chief adviser” of West Bengal Health Department; Dr Baidyanath Halder, a veteran dermatologist; late Dr Abani Roy Chowdhury, a medicine specialist who died two years ago; and Dr Balaram Prasad, a junior cardiologist who was also my classmate in medical school in Kolkata.

What difficulties did you come across in this struggle?

Of course, it was extremely difficult to fight this legal as well as public battle staying thousands of miles away in a country where at least at that point of time, i.e. 1998, doctors were literally “untouchable” and the term “medical negligence” was virtually non-existent in dictionary.

In a country (India) where pervasive corruption has plagued almost every sphere of public services, it was seemingly impossible to imagine that I could win this battle against the highly influential medical fraternity. So, I had all odds stacked against me right from the very beginning. But I never lost the faith because the incomprehensible death of my wife during a brief social visit to our homeland almost at the beginning of our family together must have a much bigger purpose in life.

Over the past almost 16 years, I’ve spent at least 1.5 million dollars to fight this legal battle in India. These expenses include not only the hefty fees for the lawyers in India but also numerous personal trips (as many as 4-5 each year), which also weighed heavily on my professional research career. In fact, despite making a decent income in USA as a tenure-track professor in one of the largest public universities (Ohio State University) as well as a private consultant on HIV/AIDS, I eventually had to file bankruptcy and foreclose my home in 2011.

Professionally, my tenure was eventually rejected by OSU solely because of my long absence in India where my attorneys categorically told me that there is no chance to win this legal battle with complex medical issues without my physical presence during the trial. Although I still have my research lab (since a lawsuit is still pending against my hospital), I’ve been working primarily as a private consultant (since denial of my tenure) but also work as an Adjunct Professor here in Columbus, Ohio.

How significant do you consider the verdict?

While I cannot say that I’m very pleased with the quantum of compensation awarded last week by the Supreme Court after spending so much money on my own only to fight this legal battle, but this fight was never for money. If it were, this battle with virtually no chance of winning back in 1998 would have never begun. In that way, I’m very happy with the Apex Court verdict because it has sent the right message to the hitherto untouchable medical community in India.

In the context of India, the verdict has undoubtedly raised the value of average human life in India. Until now, even on the rare occasions when a court held the doctor/hospital guilty for medical negligence causing death of a patient, the compensation generally awarded is in the vicinity of a paltry sum of few lakh rupees with which you perhaps won’t be able to purchase a second-hand car. Is the worth of a human life less than that of a junky second-hand car? This paltry compensation also failed to have any deterrent effect on the wealthy doctors/hospitals of India. In fact, the meagre compensation (after decade or more long litigation process) generally awarded by Indian consumer courts has encouraged more incidence of “medical negligence”.

This verdict is surely going to change the absolute travesty of justice and elevate the value of human lives in India. The verdict is also going to send some threatening signals to the doctors of India and as a result, I am confident that they would be more careful for treatment of their patients. And that is perhaps the biggest victory for this long 16-year-old fight.

What was the objective behind founding the People for Better Treatment?

As I said, I firmly believe that Anuradha’s death in 1998 in the most unfathomable fashion must have a bigger purpose in life. There is not one Anuradha in India. Many Anuradhas have kept on dying needlessly in India only because of the lack of a little more care and compassion on part of many doctors, not all, who are practicing there. In fact, Anuradhas are still dying today even though some awareness about medical negligence and patients’ rights has been generated in the course of my long legal fight for justice in India.

I established “People for Better Treatment” (PBT), a purely charitable organization in 2001 to promote a better healthcare delivery system, to eradicate the pervasive corruption in medicine and to help the hapless victims of medical negligence in India.

Thousands of alleged victims of malpractice have already come to PBT from all parts of India seeking help in their quest for justice. Over the past more than 11 years, PBT has brought major changes in the grossly flawed healthcare regulatory system in India. For example, our PIL (public interest litigation) in the Supreme Court has brought new laws that medical councils in India must investigate and dispose of complaints against doctors within a maximum period of six months. Until now, complaints against doctors were just collecting dust in the medical council office. We uncovered that a complaint filed in the 1960 was still undecided by the Kerala Medical Council.

The inherent problem and corruption in the health regulatory system have given rise to unscrupulous doctors like Dr Ketan Desai sitting at the helm of MCI (Medical Council of India) until 2010 when he was caught red-handed by the CBI in a sting operation while taking bribe from a private medical college in exchange to grant the MCI recognition.

Although my personal battle for justice for my departed wife might have ended last week with this historic verdict by the Supreme Court, PBT and I will continue this battle for justice for the humanity and to save innocent lives in India until the medical regulatory system is cleansed from all evils of corruption and start working to save the innocent patients from the wrath of the errant medicos and not shield their delinquent medical colleagues.

by Vidhi Rathee

26 Comments

  1. SAKSHI TEWAI SAKSHI TEWAI Sunday, August 2, 2015

    Dear Kunal Sir,

    Can I please have your e-mail id. I have undertaken medical negligence as my topic for PhD, reason being my father who was himself a very compassionate and caring doctor died because of gross negligence of junior doctors. Your experience can help me a lot and by God grace if everything goes well, we might soon have a good piece of legislation with teeth , so no man has to fight for 16 years to get justice . (sakshiji.tewari@gmail.com)

    Regards
    Sakshi

  2. M.A Rasheed M.A Rasheed Tuesday, June 9, 2015

    I would like to narrate one medical negligence case happened with my sister due to this she died .

    I want to bring your notice if any body want to help me in this regard . I will share that case to proceed further. Kindly le me know your contact details

    Thanks
    Rasheed
    rasheedhyd@gmail.com

  3. Dr. Trials Dr. Trials Friday, December 6, 2013

    Dr.B.Ravi Kumar – are you a real doctor or just another compensation-seeker? Advertising you case here might not bring you too much real support on the ground. Try contacting PBT or some media house to carry your story. You wouldn’t get the kind of massive publicity you’re looking for here. Best of luck on your hunt.

  4. Dr.B.Ravi Kumar Dr.B.Ravi Kumar Monday, December 2, 2013

    There is a case in which the culpable drugs are not mentioned in the reference letter. Those drugs are prescribed in the case sheet and written as administered in the nurses record. The death occurred on 14/12/2004. The consumer forum kollam kerala awarded 15 lakhs on 24/12/2012. Now that judgement is challenged before the state forum by the doctors. The criminal case no 2964/2013 is coming up on 12/3/2014 at J.F.M.C. Karunagapally. I hope you have noticed the UNDUE delay. In this case the INTENTION was to hide the incompetence KNOWING very well that it can cause DEATH with a 100 percent probability. The orginal charge was I.P.C. 304 but diluted to I.P.C.304 A because of the apex court verdict on MAHADEV PRASAD KAUSHIK. for details 9349312325

  5. ApperhensiveDoc ApperhensiveDoc Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    I sympathise with Dr. Saha and I can understand why he did what he did. But this litigation, in spite of the best intentions of Dr. Saha, has emboldened a section of society that are not as well-meaning. Not everybody would understand (or try to understand) the nuances of this judgement. They may not earn even 1% of the amount that has been awarded in this case, but this gives them motivation to try.

    I have personally seen cases in my life, of patient party demanding compensation claiming negligence (miserably unsuccessfully) even before ascertaining for themselves whether their patient has actually dies (which the person had not). Society always has a propensity towards benefit-seeking whatever be the cost. The sticker value of this judgement has made doctors look like low-hanging fruit. Perception always matters. This is going to make our practice far more risky than it already was.

    People tend to use anything and everything that they have at their disposal to extract money. It is not a war of ideals, as has been fought by Dr. Saha. They rope in the electronic media and start their media trial (which is pretty easy in this high-competition market). They spend half their lives posting libel on social media and websites like these even when their own case may be sub judice. It’s a war of perceptions and in this facultatively leftist society of ours, fame/wealth equals evil.

    I have no comments upon the merits or demerits of the particular case – that has been proven in court as per the extant laws of the land. The court is bound to follow the laws laid down by the legislature (as long as it is constitutionally viable). And there is international precedent of bunker-buster payouts as well (upto USD 50-60 million). It is not the court’s fault. It was the government that included doctors under the CPA, and not the learned courts. That is why, even America is has been debating “tort reform.” Doctors or smaller hospitals going bankrupt after successful malpractice claims, is an American trend best not followed. All it takes is a destructive legal precedent.

    The IMA has been happily napping all these years. Chilled party halls with reps babbling uninteresting product information, does tend to induce a state of stupor, especially after a few single-malts. Today I heard, that they have finally woken up to this issue. I sincerely hope that the IMA doesn’t fall asleep again. I sincerely hope they ensure that doctors be kept out of the CPA for the sake of the “art” of saving lives.

  6. Dr Tom Dr Tom Monday, November 4, 2013

    Dear Dr Kunal Saha,

    I feel that this judgement is a blotch in the legal system of the country.
    I invite the readers to go through the finer details of the case as analysed threadbare in consumer redressal forum in 2006. It is a real eyeopener regarding this case. please check the following link:
    http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1407906/
    will understand that the treating doctors have used reasonable skill and care in treating the patient. Unfortunately, the patient died. And what killed her was the disease- Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), and not the doctors.
    As doctors we all know symptoms of each disease evolve over time. what appears initially as a simple viral flu on the first day may well turn out to be Chicken pox as the rash appears after a few days. the doctor who sees the patient on day one will treat it as viral flu and not with anti herpetic antibiotics. does that mean his judgement is wrong? Any doctor with reasonable knowledge will do the same.
    In this case, three different doctors (all of whom are well qualified) have seen the patient initially based on her skin syptoms and had concluded that it is possibly allergic vasculitis and prescribed depomedrol, which is not wrong. Now, i do not know regarding the exact dose to be given in allergic vasculitis. But, your statement that ” You can never prescribe “Depomedrol” daily or twice daily like “Solumedrol” under ANY condition.” is WRONG as shown in this drug info on Depomedrol http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/011757s085s086lbl.pdf

    which says : “In treatment of acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis daily doses of 160 mg of methylprednisolone for a week followed by 64 mg every other day for 1 month have been shown to be effective.”

    I would also like to add that in spinal cord injuries,Methylprednisolone ( Solumedrol not depomedrol) may be given even upto 12000- 15000 mg in just 24 hours (NASCIS recommendations)

    Unfortunately, as the symptoms evolved in a few days, it turned out that the patient had TEN and she finally succumbed to the disease.TEN is an extremely rare condition. In hindsight, everyone is wiser and can say the treatment for TEN is not depomedrol..! But what about these doctors (three of them) who had to initiate her treatment based on the rashes only?

    It was entirely wrong on the part of Dr Kunal Saha to drag the treating doctors into this legal battle and mentally harass them for such a long time.
    This verdict will only serve to demoralise thousands of Indian doctors who practice modern medicine and surgery with grace and devotion. Every patient should go only to doctors whom they trust, because without trust, there is no cure.

    :

  7. Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Monday, November 4, 2013

    It appears that while the country has welcomed the landmark judgment pronounced in Dr Saha’s case, in the case of doctors few have felt sorry that Dr Saha’s home was destroyed. It is because of the fact that doctors appear to have ‘ganged up’ against him that there is a pressing need for an independent tribunal to safeguard patient rights. In India, the number of doctors who are punished for professional misconduct are a handful as compared to UK/US.

  8. anil kumar poddar anil kumar poddar Monday, November 4, 2013

    And to add further this judgement will make medicine much more expensive in this country, doctors will definitely ask many necessary/so called unnecessary opinion, will order many more so called (un) necessary tests, which no body knows whether it is necessary until positive results are found, and the poor patients will pay, at a small but definite benefit to patients. God help this country,
    and at last I would request Dr saha to practice medicine in this country where everywhere and everybody can’t get same/similar facility but gets same disease and more or less similar treatment.

  9. anil kumar poddar anil kumar poddar Monday, November 4, 2013

    I want to ask Dr. saha,who was himself a doctor, does not matter different speciality, when Dr. Mukherjee prescribed this dose, don’t everbody think atleast he (Dr. Saha) should have seen some books or atleast package insert to confirm/clarify dosages,or could have asked some other specialist regarding this dose,
    hence i personally feel he too is guilty , if not fully, atleast partially.Those days small number of us would see books or google, we practiced by our memory, and human memory can always or sometimes go wrong.I am surprised no colleague doctors who were involved in the treatment, resident doctors who were involved in the treatment, nurses and even pharmacist, which gave this drug, all were supposed to know the dose and if found or suspect high should have pointed out this to treating doctors, and the matter would have come to light and one young life could have been saved.We should have the system full proof so that such mistakes/human error can be avoided in future, then only we can do justice to Anuradha’s death and not by penalty whether it is big or small.
    Every yearsome few thousands patients die in U.SA because of doctors fault, I am not trying to justify this fault, but we all should take a lesson that such mistakes are possible, and discuss with our hospital how to avoid such mistakes in future.
    see the tragedy so many people in the chain are at fault including system of the hospital and only poor few doctors have been found guilty by court and have been punished.

  10. Dr Chandran Dr Chandran Sunday, November 3, 2013

    Firstly my sympathies with Dr Saha for the premature death of his wife.

    Such events are tragic in their own right.
    His reactions are motivated by his concepts of greater good , and I do not question his motivation .

    Ii respectfully submit the following points for perusal

    1) There are other more balanced and nuanced judgements among Supreme court judgements.

    2) In legal terms , intent is an important factor to consider in apportioning criminality – was there an intent to harm..?

    3) The indian legal system is dependant on the judge , unlike the jury system in UK. Hence the judges opinion is all that matters , it cannot be considered infallible , as there is always room for appeal.

    Note that that death has occured is a fact, that it is due to negligence is an opinion,( true or otherwise) , that the compensation is quantified as a particular amount is due to conjectural reasoning.

    4)Death is the other side of the coin of life.

    5) I know of a doctor , who lost his near and dear one, while undergoing a surgery , the surgeon was his class mate ,

    He abjured his right to litigate , even though it could be argued that it would serve as a lesson to all ..

    Instead the doctor contributed to the purchase of some essential monitors in the OT , to help reduce the chances of such an event recurring , arguing that he has achieved closure of his grief with this act.

    6) The current case is debating an error of omission., the extension into a surgeons domain where the errors are those of commission , and guilt is assumed and the onus of proving innocence is on the accused .. makes the implication of this judgement a tad nightmarish..

    with deepest sympathies to all involved in this unfortunate event ,

    There but for the grace of god go I..

    Dr Chandran.

  11. Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Sunday, November 3, 2013

    Dr Jayanth – respectfully I differ. The statement that no doctor ever commits negligence intentionally is true for many doctors but not for ALL. There are cases where unfortunately the license to heal is abused as a license to kill. As a member of PBT, I can assure you that PBT is not a forum to ‘witch-hunt’ doctors. PBT will stand for truth and I have no hesitation in adding that in Bangalore where people have approached me when they have no case against hospitals/doctors, we have not hesitated in saying that. The crusade of Dr Saha and others in PBT is for justice. Justice and fraud can never go together.

  12. dr jayanth dr jayanth Saturday, November 2, 2013

    i agree with dr kamalesh
    no doctor ever commits negligence intentionally

  13. Dr. Kunal Saha Dr. Kunal Saha Saturday, November 2, 2013

    Dear Dr. Ketan:

    I had no intention to get into this one-sided avalanche of rhetorical attacks by Indian doctors (with some obvious exceptions) against me since delivery of the recent SC judgment on my wife’s (Anuradha Saha) wrongful death. It is your fundamental right as guaranteed under Indian Constitution to say or write almost anything you feel in a democratic society even when it is based on groundless reports and innuendos. But I could not help writing on your comment as it may decide yet another Anuradha’s life or death.

    Your comment that more than 880 mg of methylprednisolone may be given in a week or ten days glaringly shows how dangerous doctors like you may be in a country like India where regulatory medical authorities virtually do not exist in reality. Only “soluble” methylprednisolone (e.g. Solumedrol), AND NOT ALL FORMS OF METHYLPREDNISOLONES, could be given at this dose because “Solumedrol” has a half-life of only about 1.5 hours which would be out of your system in quick time. “Depomedrol” is methylprednisolone acetate with a half-life of 139.5 hours which stays in the body for up to 28 days. You can never prescribe “Depomedrol” daily or twice daily like “Solumedrol” under any condition. Please go and check pharmaco-therapeutics of these two drugs. Both may be “methylprednisolone” but they are hell and heaven apart. And for God’s sake, please do not prescribe “Methylprednisolone acetate” at 880 mg a week or ten days on any patient. That will certainly be a new and unfortunate story of another Anuradha somewhere.

    Dr. Kunal Saha
    Columbus, Ohio

  14. Dr Vivek Sharma Dr Vivek Sharma Thursday, October 31, 2013

    There have been some instances in past few years in which courts penalized the doctors even after the Medical Council absolved them of any wrong doing (including this particular case). Medicine is not an exact science, we work according to probabilities only, treating the patients for the most probable outcomes only,it is the most probable outcome, not the certain outcome, a possibility of error is impossible to escape. According to an article I read, almost every practicing physician in America pays compensation on the grounds of negligence at least once during his whole practice! Point is simple, if everyone is wrong according to a system of judgement then there are serious problems with your criteria of right and wrong. Bringing such a compensation culture in India will be disastrous, more for patients then doctors. Highlighting the hugeness of the amount fined and the ‘villainy’ of the doctors instead of actually trying to understand the case, threatens to do exactly the same. People over glorify us when we save someone’s life similarly they unreasonably blame us when someone dies during treatment. This is not to say that doctors do no negligence in India, but two wrongs do not make a right. Most doctors treat their patients according to best of their abilities, but under the circumstances similar to the above case (from what I have read in papers) almost all the doctors would have been at the receiving end of the law in spite of their best efforts. I have read the comments section in some of the news paper and there is a general anti doctor sentiment without even an attempt to understand the case at hand or the circumstances under which doctors work. People seem to think doctors should be punished at the first hint without even making to understand what actually went wrong. To say that medical fraternity in India is influential is a sad joke.

  15. dr abhishek gupta dr abhishek gupta Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    though we feel grief over the personal loss of dr saha, his appears to be more of a revengeful act against the soft targets(treating doctors) rather than a journey for justice. he probably found solace in fighting the poor doctors to mourn for his wife. more unfortunate is the judgement that endorsed his emotions.
    did dr saha pay the professional fees of the said doctors at parwith US where he works when he sought that huge compensation? did he disclose his income to the doctors initially now that the compensation was sought siting his/wife’s income? are indian doctors paid anywhere near their counterparts in western world? are they not subjected to work in pathetic conditions?
    human life is invaluable but lets not scare the saviors by such claims. no qualified doctor would want to see his/ her patient die! please dont find intent when all the doctors tried was to save your wife to the best of their knowledge. rare ailments are encountered rarely please understand this. To attribute an unfortunate event as neglect seems unjustified here,
    hopefully you organisation will not work towards satifying your personal vendatta against the medical community in India and be more constuctive, trying to provide medical services to the needy.
    best regards,
    dr abhishek gupta,
    orthopaedic surgeon

  16. ketan ketan Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    In this era doctors are brought under consumer act, paying for losses to this tune! for non criminal acts.
    On the other hand they are charging peanuts for saving lives!!
    Should they start getting much more for saving lives?

    Doctors were charged as being negligent for giving a total dose of 880 mg of methylprednisolone over a week or 10 days – for a condition like severe vasculitis!! It must have been very ignorant on part of the interpreter for such bad logic regarding art and science of medical practice and holding doctor negligent. Even larges dose of steroids can be given for potentially life threatening conditions as immunosuppression.

    The claimed compensation was more than 75 crores!! The claimant does not deserve sympathy then.

    No doubt, with such scenarios India is now heading to a medical system where only very rich will afford private medical care. The medical tourism which all are boasting is just because Indian doctors are intelligent, caring but cheap.

    These arguments are in no way to support quacks or gross and blatant negligences but to voice the gray zones of practice of medicine which is very difficult to be understood/percieved by lay people.

  17. Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    I salute the tenacity od Dr Kunal Saha who has inspired many in the country including me. However, in my opinion the amount of compensation should have been much more. It is incomprehensible how ‘loss of companionship’ was valued at Rs 1 lac by Supreme Court. Also, the amount considered for legal fees as Rs 11 lacs is very less compared to what Dr Saha would have actually spent. We have Dr Saha’s case and the Bhopal Gas tragedy where the compensation should have been much higher. However, on the other side the compensation awarded in the defamation case filed by retired Supreme Court Judge against Times Now was Rs 100 crores appears to be unusually high. The Supreme Court judgment should articulate clear norms for compensation which clearly has not been done in this case. However, on the other side yes the judgment is welcome because it is going to make hospitals and doctors realise that they cannot get away by playing with the lives of innocent patients.

  18. SocialistCountry SocialistCountry Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    The only ‘bigger purpose’ that this case has served is the lining pockets of some legal professionals with ‘hefty legal fees.’ Nobody else seems to have earned anything.

    The verdict seems to imply that the value of a person’s life depends on their income and that a poor man’s life is worth less than that of a rich one. In a pseudo-socialist country like ours, what else could we expect?

    Would the government bring in an ordinance capping these bonanza pay-outs to reasonable levels? I don’t believe they will. We aren’t tainted netas, are we?

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

  19. OP BHANDARI OP BHANDARI Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    medical facilities should only be in the govt. sector. it must must be strictly non practicing. doctors must get the salaries at the rate of international wedge scale. doctors must work only for eight hours a day than only doctors can do justice with justice the patients.

  20. kamlesh kamlesh Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    which negligent profession or politician has ever paid such huge compensation ever i havnt heared even though our intentions are right we are held negligent due to judgement error this is rediculous we r soft targets for everyone, our working conditions are pathetic still india produces best doctors in world we have skills and they just have machines .

  21. Dr.Praveen Kumar Dr.Praveen Kumar Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    There is clear cut message for doctors – treat patients according to their earning capacity.You need not to take much care of poor patients because human life value is calculated according to socio economic status of a patient.Moreover if their is delay of years in justice and the patient suffers huge financial losses due to fees of lawers it is your duty to compensate for that.

  22. Dr.Rajesh Dr.Rajesh Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    I agree with Dr Kamlesh.

  23. Dr.Sunila Sharma Dr.Sunila Sharma Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Dr.Kunal Saha has undertaken a good step by starting NGO -People for Better Treatment . If he wishes to extend its motives to different states ,I would like to explore its establishment at Delhi and Gurgaon.

  24. Dr.Sunila Sharma Dr.Sunila Sharma Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    To say that every illness that ends up in death early is due to doctor’s negligence is not justified.

    I feel sorry for the death of Anuradha at a very young age but the type of skin allergy she exhibited along with its progress to an unfortunate end with sepsis due to steroid use may be co-related in its posteriority with medical negligence but it is difficult to say that any other skin specialist would have undertaken any other treatment at her stage of disease which progressed rapidly and aggressively from minor allergy with skin bullae to end in mortality.

  25. kamlesh kamlesh Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Is it time for doctors to pack their Bags ?

    The sensational judgment of honorable supreme court awarding 5.96 cr which with interest would be nearly 11 cr in a case of medical negligence has shocked the medical world. How much is too much ? Under CPA there is no cap on the amount of compensation which can be claimed or awarded. It is the earning capacity of and hence the loss to the consumer which is the deciding factor.
    Doctors and hospitals do not charge patients on basis of the patient’s earning capacity. Doctors cannot force high income patients to take treatment elsewhere because law also mandates that all emergencies are to be attended to under threat of consumer, civil and even criminal prosecution.
    It is unfair and paradoxical in a country like India where we need doctors to treat the poor, we force doctors and hospitals to raise treatment costs to be in a position to cover for such like compensation claims. No insurance company covers for such like compensations. Unlike Motor accident Insurance where irrespective of the compensation claimed or awarded the insurance premium for that class of vehicle is uniform. Compare with Professional Indemnity Insurance where premium for insurance cover of 10 lacs will be 110 times less than premium for insurance for cover of this 11 cr (2500 / per annum vs 2,75000 per annum). Ultimately the cost of this has to be transferred to the patient / consumer.The cost may not make a difference to NRIs like the complainant in this case but to the average Indian consumer it will cause an exhorbitant burden.
    No doctor deliberately causes a patient harm or death. The best way not be accused of medical negligence is NOT TO PRACTICE MEDICINE. If you stop driving you will never be accused of rash driving. It is one thing to be accountable for ones actions it is quite another to work under threat of suchlike claims. A sword hanging over a doctors hand can never ensure steady hands. No doctor can afford to pay such a claim however flourishing his or her practice maybe. It is an end of career kind of judgment, if not end of life ,Doctor having the option of committing suicide. However even if the Doctor does commit suicide the claim would however still be recoverable in land revenues and consumer court having the power of judicial magistrate can attach property.
    It is unfortunate judgment which though sensational will have far reaching consequences. If even now doctors cannot unite nothing can be done to save the profession.

  26. Dr.Sundaram M.K. Dr.Sundaram M.K. Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    True it was a real long battle which you have won, sir. But I do not think this will anyway change the attitude of corrupt doctors or the corrupt officials. Basic change is needed in manufacture, use and promotion of drugs. All unwanted drugs should go out of market. There should have basic change in health delivery system. Medical curriculum should include ethics, doctor patient relationship as main subjects as important as basic sciences like anatomy and physiology. All corrupt persons holding higher offices in this field should be removed. See Kethan Desai is very much inside and the corrupt politicians supporting him has still the upper hand. Medical council should be run by Doctors known for their commitment, integrity, dedication to the profession and high ethical standards. There should not be political influence in appointing members in the council. Even if this body is made democratically elect people in this era of corruption where and money power and muscle power is the order of the day there is high chance that people like Kethan will come back. People like you should come up and lead the fight. All types of promotion of drugs should stop. Law on compulsory usage of generic name in prescriptions should come and medical company sponsored CME s should stop. Medical colleges should have good research facility and should be governed by Professors of High repute. Most important of all, the attitude of doctors should change.I do not think there will be any change in the scenario in the near future. If this judgement make a beginning for such a change better for the profession and the country.With prayers for the soul of Mrs.Anuradha Saha…

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