INDIA: A RTI query response revealed that the healthcare sector’s long-awaited demand has been finally implemented by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as they would set proper guidelines to determine cases of medical negligence.
There are, however, no specific guidelines as of now, but the issue has been prioritised through a proper rendering of the query, as the ministry said in reply to an application that was filed under the RTI Act.
Sunil Kumar Gupta, the undersecretary in the ministry’s medical education policy section and the central public information officer, stated, “So far, no guidelines have been framed. It is under consideration.” Gupta also submitted a written response to PTI when he was requested to give information on “if the Union Health Ministry has framed any guidelines to handle cases of medical negligence in the country.”
Following the Jacob Mathew Case in 2005, the Supreme Court for the first time asked the Centre to create statutory rules to consult with the medical education regulator at MCI, who was present at that time, to provide means to tackle the medical negligence cases that affect both the doctors and the patients.
The Supreme Court issued a few guidelines requiring the officer in charge to obtain an independent and powerful medical opinion before proceeding against a doctor accused of negligence. Ajay Kumar Agarwal, a lawyer at the Delhi High Court, said that, “This leads to court cases as aggrieved patients feel that getting an opinion from the state medical councils amounts to a conflict of interest.”
Prof. Dr. JA Jayalal, the erstwhile national president of the Indian Medical Association and the present secretary of the Commonwealth Medical Association, mentioned, “The IMA stands for requesting the government to establish a separate medical tribunal comprising learned doctors to deal with such cases in a time-bound manner. It also demands that the Centre proactively come forward to frame these guidelines, in discussion with the NMC and other medical statutory bodies.”
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