MANGALURU: A recent in-house survey carried out by National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru has pinpointed four reasons for rise in medical litigation in India. These include greater consumer awareness, flexible consumer forums, cost involved in medical services, and litigant mindset among the populace in general, noted Sairam Bhat, associate professor and coordinator, Distance education department, and CEERA, NLSIU, Bengaluru.
Sairam, chief guest at the inaugural function of a one-day workshop on rising medical litigation and possible solutions, organized jointly by NLSIU and SDM Law College and Centre for PG Studies and Research in Law here said there is a steady increase in cases of medical litigation in the country. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their rights, duties and responsibilities and are ready to fight out any deficiency in service delivery mechanisms, he said.
Flexibility and ease provided by consumer forums to file a complaint before consumer courts too has aided this trend, he said. Unlike moving a regular civil court to file a case, consumers can do so with far greater ease in a consumer court, he said, adding many consumers are known to argue their case themselves rather than through advocates. Belief that consumer courts provide sense of ease of justice too spurts them to take cases of medical negligence head on, he said.
With rising cost of medical health care, expectations of consumers in terms of services from the medical institutions too are rising, he said, adding they tend to cry negligence for the smallest of deficiency in service delivery. In addition, the basic mindset of Indian public is to 'litigate' and they are not averse to moving the courts seeking justice. It is here that NLSIU has successfully put forth the idea that it is better to go in for mediation rather than litigation, he noted.
Dr Suresh B Shetty, head of department of forensic science, KMC, Mangaluru who released the e-journal on this occasion said doctors are literally in the dock thanks to Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Noting that courts are jammed with cases of medical negligence, Dr Suresh noting that this is not a welcome sign, said things have come to a stage where doctors - new comers and seniors are wary about treating serious complex cases lest they are charged with negligence.