‘Docs are overworked, may not able to update records’

‘Docs are overworked, may not able to update records’

Dr N Dhanpal

Dr N Dhanpal, President, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Bengaluru, tells DH’s Reshma Ravishanker that IMA is trying hard to sensitise practitioners regarding issues of medical negligence.

How does a patient ascertain a case of medical negligence?

Patients or their attenders can suspect medical negligence when there is an event which is not a possible outcome, as explained by the treating doctor, consequent to the treatment. However, some times some complications do happen which may not have been explained by the treating doctor beforehand.

How does Indian Medical Association ensure the victim gets justice? What is the course of action? 

Any person who suspects medical negligence can register a written complaint with the State Medical Council. Medical Council shall summon experts in the pertinent field and then give the final judgement after hearing both the sides.

In several cases, patients are denied their own medical records by corporate hospitals. Legally, what are the documents a patient is eligible to have access to and a copy of? 

Patients are entitled to get the summary of the treatment they have undergone. One can get the copy of the entire case records only by legal recourse.

A lot of patients complain that no counselling was given prior to even a risky procedure. How do you address this problem? 

Routinely, before any procedure counselling is done explaining about the indications of the procedure, the procedure and its complications, and possible outcomes. IMA conducts CMEs (continued medical education) on a regular basis for the doctors sensitising them about medical negligence and medico-legal
issues.

When doctors are found negligent, what action would be taken against them? 

Once a case of medical negligence is proved in the State Medical Council, the doctor’s licence will be suspended and the person won’t be able to practice anywhere in India. 

In most medical negligence cases, crucial data seems to be missing. Why are there no stringent guidelines on this? 

In many hospitals, the doctors are over-worked and sometimes may not be able to update the records. For example, some emergency procedures take not less than 8 to 10 hours and sometimes even more. But this should not be an excuse and medical records need to be updated and complete.