The number of cases filed for medical negligence is increasing day by day. However, a lot of these cases are coming to light as frivolous and baseless.
Frivolous cases have severe repercussions on doctors, affecting their business image as well as career.
Patients should realize that not every doctor, who they disagree with, is a criminal. The Medi-care system is so open to fraud because there is so little oversight of the actual facts and cases.
The Judges have understood this pattern and are continuously pushing back on such unjust prosecution.
The Supreme court has held that:-
- A medical negligence complaint should not be entertained without prima facie evidence submitted to the court.
- Along with an expert opinion to support a claim of negligence.
- A doctor may not be arrested unless his arrest is necessary to further the investigation or if the investigating officer is of the opinion that the doctor would not make himself available unless he is operated.
Doctors should fight these frivolous claims. To aid this, the Indian Medical Council has approved a list of guidelines to protect doctors from unjust and frivolous claims. The Central Government has to approve and pass the notification.
The guidelines are to be observed by the prosecuting agencies and they are implemented to protect doctors from frivolous and unjust prosecution:
- Before making the arrest, the prosecuting agency shall refer the complaint to the Chief Medical Officer. He shall place it before the District Medical Board for its recommendations based on the merits of the case.
- The District Medical Board shall examine the allegations of the medical negligence (within two weeks) and send the findings back to the prosecuting agency
- The Board conducting the examination shall ensure that a doctor qualified in that branch of science, on which the allegation is based, was a part of that Board.
- In case the prosecuting agency is not satisfied by the findings of the District Medical Board, after stating the reasons for the same, the agency shall refer the matter to the Divisional Medical Board within three weeks of the recommendations issued by the District Medical Board.
- The Divisional Medical Board shall give reasons for either accepting or rejecting the recommendations of the District Medical Board. The decision of the Board shall be conveyed to the prosecuting agency withing four weeks.
- In case the prosecuting agency is dissatisfied with the recommendations of the Divisional Medical Board, after stating the reason for the same, the agency shall refer the matter to the State Medical Board within four weeks of the recommendations issued by the Divisional Medical Board.
- The State Medical Board shall give reasons for either accepting or rejecting the recommendations of the Divisional Medical Board. The decision of the Board shall be conveyed to the prosecuting agency withing five weeks.
- The prosecuting agency, on the basis of the recommendations of the District/Divisional/State Medical Board, should further proceed in accordance with the law.
- In case of an arrest of a medical practitioner employed by the state or central government, the controlling officer of the medical practitioner shall be informed by the prosecuting agency.
- In case of an arrest of a medical practitioner, engaged in private practice, the concerned State Medical Council is to be informed by the prosecuting agency.
It is a dire need of the hour to implement these guidelines promptly.