After several cases have been registered in consumer courts, the online platform of the Indian Consumer Complaints Forum is now flooded with medical negligence grudges.
By Lanka Samanth
Bangalore, April 10, 2019.
Hospital patients are complaining about mistreatment, misdiagnosis, fraudulent billing by hospitals, and overcharging in a few hospitals. These complaints are being filed in the Indian Consumer Complaints Forum. There is no count on these cases, as no regulatory body is present to sort out the nature of complaints filed by the consumers.
“I am very clear that the number of cases in the last four years has jumped said Dr Nagendra Swamy, Sr. President of Manipal Hospital in Bangalore. He explained that the upsurge in medical negligence cases is not completely the hospitals’ or doctors’ fault.
“It is because of huge compensations ordered by the courts. Now, the Consumer Forum has made a maximum compensation of Rs. 1 crore for district courts. Most of the time, only 18-20% of the total cases are won by the people filing cases against hospitals or doctors,” he added.
According to him, complications and negligence are not the same. People complain about complications as medical negligence – this is untrue. Medical negligence cases are unlike other cases. “These cases should be dealt with in a scientific manner. There should be a medical board appointed by the Government or the courts to ensure complete justice to litigants and doctors as well,” said Dr Nagendra.
“If a patient is receiving crores of money as compensation, a few people try to lure money from hospitals and fail to receive it after the verdict. These heavy compensations lead to an increase in health care facilities. Around 65% of Indians are not health-insured and they self-pay for medical expenses. When they pay, if there is any small complication, they blame hospitals or doctors as medical negligence. This should not be encouraged.”
A doctor, wanting to remain anonymous, is worried about medical negligence cases. According to the above-mentioned doctor, because of a few hospitals and doctors, the patients do not trust doctors. This is the reason a few people say, “If he/she is a doctor, he/she can loot public money,” said the doctor. The doctor expressed angst saying, “Go and check with the consumer courts in Bangalore – only then, one can realize how the sector is working.”
Around 53 cases of medical negligence have been registered until March in the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Bangalore. “Nineteen cases are pending,” said the technical in-charge officer of the forum.
The medical negligence cases fall mostly under the Consumer Protection Act.
When asked about the increase and delay in cases, Lawyer Brijeshan from the High Court of Karnataka said, “Litigants themselves file most of the medical negligence cases without any lawyer. An ordinary litigant might not be trained as a lawyer — the court functions on evidence and documents. A complainant might not execute the case like a lawyer and might fail to submit the required proof and reports.”
After all the claims by professional Sravani Gangula, a medical student, when asked about negligence in treatment by hospitals said, “Negligence may not be attributed to the doctor only if he acted according to his duty. Errors might occur due to misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosis, improper surgery. It might also occur if the patient fails to follow the instructions given by the doctor, or is unable to follow up on the case. So knowledge of both patients and practitioners is important to prevent errors.”