Experts enlighten Mumbai doctors on causes of medical negligence

12 June, 2016

Mumbai: A unique state-level medico legal conference was on Saturday organised in JJ Hospital where various medico legal issues that come up in medical practice were discussed and well-known speakers from fields of law and medicine gave their opinions on the subject.

The conference was organised by Dr Sita Tilwani, consultant gynecologist from Saifee Hospital, and other senior doctors from JJ Hospital and the speakers spoke on topics like role of evidence in medico legal cases and medico legal record keeping and documentation.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Anuja Prabhu-Desai of Bombay High Court said that it is time to introspect why doctors who were earlier having a divine position in the society are known as service providers. The judge recounted a case where the doctors would go from house to house to provide services of female foeticide where the family did not want a girl child. “These doctors had no knowledge of this field and there would be instances where sometimes even the mother would die when the procedure was being carried out,” she said. It was only when a complaint was lodged in one particular case that the matter came to light and one of the doctors was arrested, she added.

The judge said that cases of medical negligence are on the rise and hence it is important to understand what is exactly meant by this term. It has to be understood first that a doctor is one who has certain professional skills and uses them with reasonable competence and care. “It is when the person does not have the requisite skills, or if he has the skills but does not use them with proper competence and care that it becomes a case of medical negligence,” she explained.

The judge recounted an experience where a senior citizen had a fall and had suffered a fractured hip and was taken to a hospital for treatment. In the hospital the doctors examined her and told her that she would have to be operated and a particular day was fixed for this. “But on the day of the surgery, she was informed that it had been postponed and she later realised that the doctor was busy in an international conference,” Prabhu Desai said. Even though she was operated later, the patient underwent a lot of physical and emotional trauma which should not have happened.

In her talk, Dr Tilwani spoke about civil and criminal negligence and discussed the various options available to the patient if he has any complaint. She said that there is a lesson to be learnt from the western nations, where 72% of the health budget is spent on insurance companies and advocates and only 28% is spent on treatment. Others who spoke were Dr BB Daundkar, state director of forensic science laboratory, and S Radhakrishnan, former judge at the Bombay HC.