While disciplinary action can vary from case to case, the fact remains that most private hospitals remain unregulated.
Proving medical negligence is never easy in India but a triumph of justice marks a big win for the common man! A nine-month-old pregnant woman died in a Delhi hospital solely due to medical negligence and the concerned hospital has now been directed to pay Rs 20 lakh for medical negligence, according to a TOI report. That the concerned doctor left a bleeding pregnant patient and left no instructions to the nursing staff indicates the extent of medical negligence that occurred. However, a very serious area of concern remains that in most medical negligence cases, the doctor’s license to practice medicine is not canceled.
Now, the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed a hospital to pay Rs. 20 lakh for death on account of medical negligence that resulted in the death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
According to facts reported in the case, the doctor found the pregnant woman bleeding at around 4 o clock in the evening. Despite seeing the sheets stained with blood, the doctor chose to wait for a few hours, following which her condition deteriorated and she found herself struggling to breathe. According to her husband, they shouted for help but even a nurse’s assistance was delayed. After a delay of 20 minutes, the doctor reached.
An anesthetist’s absence further added to the severity of the patient’s distress and before any steps could be taken to help her, she died.
The Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission pointed out that the doctor had issued no instructions to the supporting staff on what immediate steps should be taken in case of an emergency. Fully aware of his patient’s condition and not choosing to leave instructions with his team, the doctor had left the hospital.
At a critical time when the patient was in great pain and required immediate medical attention, the non-availability of an oxygen cylinder in the hospital aggravated her condition to further deteriorate.
The facts of the case leading up to the patient’s death established medical negligence beyond doubt. Thereafter, it was directed that the Delhi hospital should pay Rs 20 lakh.
Medical negligence cases are plenty across the country but the grim reality is that it is one of the toughest for a complainant to prove in a court of law. Often, families are known to be running from pillar to post to get basic details of the medical records and treatment from the hospital authorities.
Another unregulated area is the overcharging and ‘overtreatment’ of patients at private hospitals.
In most criminal negligence cases, a victim’s family is either denied or granted compensation while the doctor continues to work. Stringent medical regulations are required to ensure that those doctors found to be guilty of medical negligence should have their medical licenses temporarily or permanently suspended in accordance with the gravity of the medical negligence assessed by the courts of law.
While disciplinary action can vary from case to case, the fact remains that most private hospitals remain unregulated. To be successful in restoring public trust, it is essential for doctors and hospitals to embrace a broader ethical and transparent methodology in their interactions with patients while doing their very best to treat them with a holistic approach for their speedy recovery.