Under new medical law, WB panel awards Rs 30 lakh to kin of baby that died due to docs' negligence

Some provisons of Bengal Act similar to proposed Karnataka legislation

The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission has awarded compensation in one of the eight cases, which it has heard in the last six months after it was constituted following after the West Bengal Clinical Establishment (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Act, 2017 came into force.

Some of the provisions of the Act are similar to the controversial Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Regulation) Bill, 2017.

With most of the cases being dismissed after detailed hearings, the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission on June 23, 2017 found Apollo Gleneagles Hospital guilty and held three doctors negligent in treating a baby, who died on April 19, 2017.

The WBCERC awarded a compensation of Rs 30 lakh to the baby's family and said in its order that the hospital was guilty of mismanagement and misrepresentation of facts and deficiency in services. It also concluded that three doctors seemed to be negligent in carrying out the treatment as expected.

Four-month-old Kuheli Chakraborty, who was admitted to the hospital for a colonoscopy, died primarily because of an anaesthetic overdose.
Aggrieved patients or their kin can approach the Commission under the bill, which was passed on March 17, to redress their grievance.

The provisions of the Act empowers the Commission to award compensation to victims of negligent treatment at private facilities up to Rs 50 lakh and in cases of negligent treatment, hospitals would be liable to compensate victims upto Rs 3 lakh for simple injury, upto Rs 5 lakh for grievous injury and not less than Rs 10 lakh in case of death.
Under the Act, hospitals would be bound to treat victims of road accidents, acid attacks and rape victims irrespective of their ability to bear treatment costs and bodies of patients would have to be released in the eventuality of relatives' inability to pay bills in full.
The law provides for fixing charges for outpatients and inpatients and diagnostics.

Though the Act has been widely welcomed by the people, there are also apprehensions as to whether it will hamper investments in the health sector.

A section of doctors has also expressed dismay over the Commission having no powers to rein in malpractices in government hospitals and that the act gives excessive powers to the public as far as emergency treatment is concerned and some might be tempted to misuse provisions of the act.

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