05 January, 2016

Thirty-three people from Maharashtra who have suffered due to medical negligence of some kind or a serious denial of health care finally have a ray of hope. These patients will be heard at a public hearing in January and cases which have a prima facie standing will be inquired by the National Human Right Commission. Further to the inquiry, the erring doctor or the medical institution will be appropriately punished in order to offer redressal to the patient. 

The public hearing will be held at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on January 6 and 7 in presence of senior officials from NHRC, state government, BMC, National Rural Health Mission etc. "We don't have a proper redressal system in place where these patients and their relatives can go. The idea is to give such patients an ear and take up their complaints to set an example," said Dr Abhijit More, co- convenor of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan that is working along with the NHRC to organise the public hearing. According to More, a total of 77 cases have been shortlisted from the Western Region of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Of these, 33 cases are from Maharhastra, including 17 from the public sector and 16 from the private sector. 

The cases include that of a businessman from Kandivali who had alleged medical negligence on part of a gynaecologist and a nursing home that resulted in mental retardation of his son after birth. According to the complainant, Manish Dubey, in November 2008, his wife was rushed to the nursing home after she went into labour. "The gynaecologist who was to perform the delivery did not arrive and the junior doctors could not take a call on performing a caesarean. The baby went into hypoxia - a condition where there was absence of oxygen which led to a brain injury," said Dubey adding that his son is seven years old and yet he can't sit, stand or talk. "The incident left us traumatised and we hope that the doctor is taken to task." 

In another shocking case from Baramati, a doctor conducted hysterectomies on three women from one family for one of the most basic medical complaints of dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation). While the condition can be treated by basic hormonal medication, this doctor told the women that it could lead to complications like cancer even before trying out medication. "The women were so scared that two of them got operated on one day and another one got operated the very next day," said More adding that the case is of 2014. 

Unwanted hysterectomies are extremely common in rural Maharashtra and this case highlights the plight of women who are put under the knife for no severe ailment. In this case, the youngest woman was 24 years old, while the eldest was 33. "In the 24-year-old woman, the doctor has removed all reproductive organs like uterus, ovaries and the fallopian tube as well," said More.