Kunal Saha and his wife Dr Anuradha Saha (a child psychologist)
were both trained in the US and were visiting their hometown
Kolkata on vacation. Dr Anuradha developed a skin allergy
for which she received treatment from two eminent doctors.
She fell victim to brutal medical negligence/malpractice
(administration of excessive steroids/ lack of supportive
therapy) and died. A local court convicted the two doctors
for rash and negligent treatment and sentenced them to just
3 months rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs.3,000.
Despite their conviction, the Indian Medical Council, the
professional regulatory body exonerated both the doctors
and refused to deregister them.
to home, Srilatha a graduate in computer science from the
US, wife of an officer of the Indian Foreign Service and
daughter of a leading attorney in Hyderabad, died in a city
hospital during delivery, due to the gross negligence of
doctors supposedly attending on her. She was in perfect
health and in fact walked into the labour room, where she
fell victim to gross negligence and malpractice by the doctors.
She died because of excessive dose of drugs, improperly
administered epidural anaesthesia and bad management of
complications. A few hours after she walked in, Srilatha's
dead body was handed over by the attending doctors, without
even delivering the baby either by normal or caesarean section.
any other mature democracy, in both the instances, the doctors
would have received severe punishment and faced disciplinary
proceedings from their professional regulatory agency. But
alas, we are yet to develop systems of professional accountability
is not my intention to paint all doctors as members of a
deadly tribe. I had the privilege of being trained as a
medical professional and know only too well how demanding
a profession it is. There are countless number of doctors
who are doing yeoman service in every nook and corner of
India, both in public and private sector. It is these great
physicians who earn the undying gratitude of the community.
But a minority of unscrupulous and negligent doctors are
besmirching the profession.
other day a gentleman who was trying to take legal action
against the hospital and doctors whose negligence caused
untold hardship to his wife was narrating how no other doctor
was willing to testify against their professional colleagues!
Trade union mentality doesn't do justice to the noble medical
profession. The society needs the services of high quality
medical professionals; and physicians earn their livelihood
from the society. They cannot afford to have an adversarial
relationship. The profession and the society need to develop
a culture of mutual respect and trust.
many countries there is an internal regulatory mechanism
for the medical profession. Even in India, the Medical Council
of India (MCI) is supposed to be the custodian of the profession,
but has grossly failed in its responsibilities. Certain
members of the MCI are notorious only for taking bribes
and giving licenses for setting up new medical colleges!
The medical profession should introspect and evolve clear
guidelines for ethical and professional conduct. The internal
regulatory framework should ensure exemplary punishment
for the erring doctor and justice for the victim. Only then
will society regain a measure of trust and respect towards
the medical community. That will benefit both the community
and the profession.