IMA backs plea against high compensation

Says doctors will hesitate to take up critical cases

The Indian Medical Association said it is against ‘disproportionate’ compensation for victims of medical negligence.

Supporting a review petition filed by the AMRI Hospitals, Kolkata, with the apex court, the IMA said there is a thin line between medical accidents and negligence as medical treatment is based on the patient’s condition and response to treatment, besides knowledge and experience of the treating doctor.

The review petition has been filed by the hospital after the Supreme Court, in an unprecedented October, 2013 judgment, awarded Rs 5.96 crore to an Indo-American doctor Kunal Saha in compensation for the negligence that led to the death of his wife. 

“The quantum of punishment is such that it might become restraint for others to join this profession. We will appreciate if the apex court accepts the review petition and reconsiders the decision,” Dr Jitendra B Patel, national president said.

Shishir Chand who coordinates the Delhi chapter of a non-profit People for Better Treatment, started by Saha to provide medico-legal counseling to victims of medical negligence, condemned IMA’s decision and said, “Not a single doctor has been convicted for medical negligence. 

The Supreme Court judgment has given hope to the victims’ families.” But Patel said if the compensation awarded to Saha becomes a milestone then medical practitioners will be petrified in treating complex cases. Dr Narendra Saini, General Secretary, said, “The judgment came as a blow to medical professionals who are new to the profession. We are seeing drop in number of students joining medical course.”

The compensation should be  based on earning of the hospital or doctor and expenses incurred by the patient during treatment, the association said, arguing that in Saha’s case the compensation was based on the earning capacity of the patient and her kin.  The association also said in case the review petition filed by the Kolkata hospital is rejected by the apex court then they would approach the law commission and file a petition in the parliament for amendment of law.

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