Consumer forum for medical negligence victims

Families and friends of medical negligence victims can now present their cases in front of a consumer forum to fight for justice.

The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has come out with a new set of rules and regulations that allows a relative, neighbour, business associate, or friend to fight for a victim of medical negligence, provided they do not accept any remuneration from the person and give a written undertaking declaring the same. The NCDRC notified the new regulation following a Supreme Court judgement in 2011, wherein the apex court asked the consumer body to frame new guidelines that would allow social organisations and non-advocates to represent consumers, including victims of medical negligence.

“Countless victims of medical negligence are victimised for a second time by lawyers, who deliberately stall their justice in order to extract money from the alleged victim, or by surreptitiously joining hands with the accused doctor or hospital,” says Kunal Saha, a US-based doctor who heads People for Better Treatment, an NGO.

From now on, non-advocates and humanitarian organisations will be able to represent victims of medical negligence, as well as victims of other deceptive trade practices, in consumer courts across India.

Notified on February 13, the new regulation also has provisions for the creation of designated agents, who will aid victims for a fee. These agents, or NGO members will have to register with the designated consumer forum, write an examination and clear an interview.

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