Saturday, 26 October 2013

Is it time for doctors to pack their Bags ?........................................109213

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.

Dr Neeraj Nagpal
Medicos Legal Action Group
Ex President IMA Chandigarh

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