2013: 'Black sheep' of medical sector kept consumer fora busy

Tags: News
Cases related to deficiency in services by railways, airlines and automobile majors kept the various consumer fora in the country busy while they also dealt sternly with rising instances of medical negligence and "black sheep" in the health sector in 2013.

Doctors and hospitals got a stern message from consumer fora, which asked the Centre and the Medical Council of India (MCI) to identify and take action against the "black sheep" in the profession who did not hesitate to put patients' lives at risk for greed.

"We can only suggest to MCI to take note of the prevailing atmosphere in the medical profession and identify such black sheep as are responsible for creating an impression in the public mind that they are being milked by greedy doctors.

"Government should take steps to protect patients from unscrupulous medical practitioners," the East Delhi District Consumer Forum had said while directing a city-based clinic to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to a patient for trying to extend her stay by incorrectly diagnosing her illness and advising surgery.

"It has been observed these days that the medical profession is affected by greed. Hospitals and doctors don't hesitate to put patients at risk," another consumer forum had said.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), too, pulled up several hospitals, clinics, and doctors across the country for treating patients in a "casual" manner. In one case, it awarded compensation of Rs 38.4 lakh, the highest this year by a consumer fora, to the kin of a woman who suffered brain damage and is in a vegetative state since 1999 due to "serious deficiency in treatment" provided to her by a Hyderabad-based fertility clinic.

These, however, could not measure up to the highest-ever compensation awarded in a medical negligence case in India when Supreme Court this year ordered the Kolkata-based Advance Medicare Research Institute and its three doctors to pay over Rs 11.41 crore, including interest, to a US-based Indian- origin doctor who lost his 29-year-old wife during their visit to India 15 years ago.

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