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Eyebrows raised over NHRC hearing on medical negligence cases

National Human Rights Commission

Mumbai : Several medical bodies including the Medical Council of India (MCI) have flayed NHRC’s ongoing hearing of medical negligence cases at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) here raising questions on its legality while dubbing the entire exercise as “insignificant”.

Dr Shivkumar Utture, Executive member of MCI said, “there are already four forums available to relieve the complainants grievances namely Maharashtra Medical Council, Consumer Court, Civil Court and if any criminality is involved then there is police station, where complainants land to get the justice.”

“I fail to understand what is the need and significance of adding one more (forum) which does not have proper jurisdiction to do so,” said Utture adding that doctors and hospitals are not shying away from conducting any inquiry, but there should be a proper and substantiated methodology to weed out black sheep from the medical field.

Yesterday, for the first time, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) along with chairpersons of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan Human Rights Commissions heard around 80 medical negligence complaints against private and government hospitals while granting compensation in some cases also.

Indian Medical Association (IMA), a national organisation of doctors, has also questioned the validity of such hearings and said it would only create confusion.

“We feel that creating an additional forum for patients to complain without any clear-cut rules or guidelines in place will only add confusion and it may trigger violence against doctors in coming days,” said Jayant Lele, President of IMA-Maharashtra Chapter.

He said the right way to address issues and complaints is to approach the State Medical Council which has the proper jurisdiction to decide merits of a case.

State Medical Council decides a case on basis of its merit, it cancels the registration of the doctors or refers it to the consumer court for compensation if any deficiency of service is found, refers it to criminal court if they find any violation of Indian Penal Code, Utture said.

It is not correct to subject a medical doctor to investigation and harassment simultaneously by police, consumer court, NHRC court and the ethics committee of medical council, and this is why we are mulling to file a writ petition to challenge such hearings, Lele said.

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