Chennai: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has urged the union health ministry to frame proper regulations and guidelines pertaining to medical records in the best interest of doctor-patient relationship.
“In our view, due to increasing trend of medical negligence litigations in India, it is the time to streamline medical profession and to frame proper regulations/guidelines pertaining to medical records,” the NCDRC said while upholding an order of the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission that fined Sri Ramachandra Hospital Rs 10 lakh for failing to inform a patient — Seelam Pavani Phani — about the possible complications of a brain surgery.
Responding to a complaint of medical negligence filed by Phani’s father S Suryanarayana, the hospital’s counsel denied negligence and said as the complaint was filed five years after the surgery, records of the patient could not be produced. The Medical Council of India (MCI) rules say hospitals must preserve medical records only for three years.
But the NCDRC bench of Justice J M Malik (presiding member) and Dr S M Kantikar (member), in its judgement delivered on December 17, 2015, observed that even after five years of receiving the legal notice, the hospital had replied in detail with all events, like date, time, mode of treatment, visiting doctors and nurses, etc.
The bench wondered how the hospital could reply in detail, if records were not preserved beyond three years and added that the hospital “concealed the medical records”, thus, it was a “suspicious and false submission”. Hence, the hospital “should be held liable,” the bench ruled.