Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), a quasi-judicial body of 85,000 doctors in the state which took over in 2012 after being defunct for 12 years have been able to dispose of around 650 cases of Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act) non-compliance and medical negligence on a priority basis.
In order to speed up the process, the state council has created three ethical committees that hear cases and present its report to the executive committee to take the final decision. The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, stipulates an executive committee appointed by the MMC to meet once in two months to take a decision and subsequent action against any medical practitioner found guilty.
There are a total of around 1,200 such cases which require speedy redressal as of today out of the 650 cases which have been successfully settled till date, according to an MMC official. This is despite the fact that the Council remained defunct from 1998 to 2010 following a Bombay High Court order which suspended the body due to irregularities in the election of members and maintenance of Council register.
The MMC official further said cases continued to be filed but remained unheard in the 12 years that it remained defunct. The onus and task of giving them a speedy hearing now lies on the shoulders of the newly appointed council in force since 2010.
As per the case reports, doctors had to face suspension of registrations and warning letters in cases of medical negligence and false advertisements. Cases of medical negligence were in many instances related to allegations of wrong treatment made by the patients relatives. These cases were settled under the premise that effective communication between doctor and patient was lacking in many cases wherein the patient was brought at the point of care beyond the time when the diseased condition was fatal and no prompt clinical decisions worked out at that point in time.
The Council today boasts of disposing of 100 cases annually in the last four years since it took over. There were no cases registered for the past four to five years when it was defunct from 1998 to 2010.
The MMC’s five-member ethical committee sits twice a month to take up cases in one hearing. It then presents its opinion to the executive committee, suggesting either dismissing the case or filing a charge-sheet against the doctor if found guilty.
The MMC is the state branch of the Medical Council of India (MCI) that regulates ethical practices of allopathic doctors. Any doctor who wish to start practice has to first register with the MMC for a licence. The MMC can cancel or suspend the licence if the doctor is found indulging in any unethical practice. By taking care of medical cases, it also ensures less burden on courts.