Delhi doctors divided over SC compensation ruling in negligence case

Delhi doctors were on Thursday divided over the Supreme Court verdict granting a whopping Rs 11.41 crore compensation for medical negligence.

PTI| Updated: Oct 25, 2013, 17:57 PM IST

New Delhi: Delhi doctors were on Thursday divided over the Supreme Court verdict granting a whopping Rs 11.41 crore compensation for medical negligence with some noting that the ruling would deter them from taking bold decisions in their patients` interests while others welcomed it saying medical practitioners would now be forced to be more careful.

Delhi Medical Council on Friday expressed concern over the massive compensation awarded by the apex court, saying it will instil fear in the minds of doctors.

DMC, however, added that the decision would empower patients to seek relief for poor treatment. "It is good that people at large now have the opportunity to get relief in terms of money... But, then, at the same time, this may instil fear among doctors and they might resort to defensive practices," said DMC secretary, Dr Girish Tyagi.

Dr Anil Agarwal, President of Delhi Medical Association, was more unequivocal in expressing dissatisfaction over the judgement.

"Such a huge amount (as compensation) is uncalled for and not justifiable. This will give a feeling of insecurity to doctors and not allow them to take decisions at crucial moments fearing that were things to go wrong, he would be dragged to court.

"This will deter nursing homes and private hospitals from admitting seriously ill patients," Agarwal said. Supreme Court had yesterday directed AMRI Hospital in Kolkata and three doctors to pay a cumulative Rs 11.41 crore, which includes interest, to a US-based Indian-origin doctor who lost his child psychologist wife during a visit to India in 1998.

The verdict also had its share of support among medical professionals. "Obviously, it is a huge compensation... On the positive side, this would become a benchmark for future litigation processes related to the medical field," said Dr Nishant Wadhwa, Paediatric Gastroenterologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

"Instances of alleged medical negligence have risen in the recent past and this verdict, which is an historic one, would restore confidence amongst patients.

"At the same time, doctors would become more prompt and careful in providing timely treatment," said Dr DK Sharma, Medical Superintendent of AIIMS.

According to Dr KB Shankar, assistant professor of neuro surgery at Safdarjung Hospital, if there has been negligence and it has been proved, then the punishment was justifiable.

"At the end of the day, whatever we do is for the benefit of the patient. Doctors henceforth will take the necessary precautions.

"The outcome could be unfortunate even after giving proper treatment, but in that case, it won`t amount to negligence," he said.
DR RK Srivastava, Chairman of Medical Council of India, reserved his opinion in the matter and said he had asked a legal team to get a copy of the judgement along with the details of the case.
Major private hospitals in the city like Apollo, Fortis and Max declined to comment on the apex court decision.