The Hidden Truth

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By M.C. Linthoingambee
How often do we find ourselves searching for the truth and end up being clueless? “Very often”, would seem likely as an answer. In an occasion, I find myself as lame witness to a group of people protesting in front of Mr. B’s (a doctor) house. On being inquired, the people said the doctor end up the life of an innocent baby, result being “Medical Negligence” or was it what it really was? In our society, the general mass turns a blind eye on the aspect of investigation and often jumps to hefty conclusions playing judges to their own assumptions. The principle of serving justice seems a connotation of a silent whisper where we very much fail to understand the legal backdrop. So, here are some aspects that can help decide the matter. If you ever find yourself a victim to a case of “Medical Negligence”, remember there are always two sides to a story. So both sides will be presumed innocent until proven guilty whether it is the medical practitioner or the patient who would be termed as a consumer, being a person who has acquired service from a doctor. In a general sense, this case is the result of a mistake or a fatal error done by the medical practitioner causing injury or harm to the patient resulting in some irreparable loss.

Pertaining to a legal knowhow, this particular clause is dealt under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 terming patients as “Consumers” under Section (1) (g) and the services so rendered by a medical practitioner under the provisions of Section (1) (o). In minimum facilities so far available in our state, Manipur holds trials at the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Sangaiprou coming into existence fulfilling a State’s necessity, pertaining to the complaints of the general consumers although it is not necessary to limit such claims to this Forum only, cases of the same nature may follow suit even in the Civil or the Criminal Courts. While dealing so, a case comes into occurrence in matters of Hina (name changed) versus. Sandhya (name changed) and Sonia (name changed)., bearing in no relation to a real life incident. Let us assume Sandhya as a certified nurse although only certified to assist a real medical practitioner; she was practicing independently and even had a clinic in her name. In the course of events, Hina, being pregnant for seven months and twenty—five days, had been due for delivery at the so called Clinic, where she visited regularly. Hina was rushed over to the clinic managed by Sandhya following Hina’s complaint of the minor pains she suffered, hearing so, several injections were administered and in the course of such so called malpractice, Hina had to have a pre mature delivery. Since Sandhya did not have the necessary equipments to deliver the baby, she brought Hina to her friend Sonia, a senior nurse in her department. And thereafter, as a result of the perquisites of the condition the two nurses started treating Hina without medical know-how, resulting lost a lot of blood and finally the baby was lost. Luckily, Hina survived, blamed the two nurses and a suit came into existence.

When such an action arises, we are at a lost not being able to judge the results. And hence, so forth a lawyer comes into the picture in the hope of delivering justice to both sides. Here, the various issues would be to determine whether the two nurses were guilty of their act, upto what range are they liable for their actions, was it right for them to take matters to themselves, is it right in Sandhya opening up a clinic to practice independently, etc. Although properly abiding by law, it is also more or less a great impact to look at the social predicaments and so the judge provoked the nurse to cease from maintaining an independent clinic and so compensation was also rewarded to Hina for all the torment she faced on both mental and physical terms. The general outlook seems easy since the story tells a job well done.

A complainant, a person filing the complaint is given an entire setback of responsibilities resulting from the first outlook of “Burden of Proof,” wherein the complainant has to prove that the other party has caused due injury as a result of a reason. Determining a right or a wrong is not an easy task, so Firstly, we can start by advising that in medical negligence whosoever, has any complaint/grievance against a medical practitioner must consult someone who is actually an expert in the same field.

But if the actions had so occurred in the face of a certified medical practitioner, a doctor or within the boundaries of a hospital one must firstly go to the Medical Superintendent (M.S) of that Hospital where the patient was admitted with a copy of the complaint to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of her area. And if the concerned hospital does not reply to the same then that is where the Medical Councils step in.  The patient may first approach the State Medical Council of her residence in free of cost. And if so however, the patient finds their reply unsatisfactory then the Medical Council of India (MCI) comes into rescue where they charge a fee of Rs. 500/- as processing fee. If the complaint is to be made for something criminal in nature then, the patient can also file a complaint with the Local Police Station near her residence where an opinion of an expert will be called for to further examine the case. So, even though the Judge makes the final call, the judgment faces trial in the hands of further practitioners in the particular field of medical sciences.

By now, the victims to the result of “Medical Negligence” has increased terribly and so there are only some who are heard of otherwise, the others just poof up the smoke validating their non-existence. Today, our democratically led government should try to fill up these gaps and have a better environment calling safety measures for health. And therefore, the story ends.

(M.C. Linthoingambee is an undergraduate pursuing B.Com. LL.B(H). An avid blogger, poet, a seasonal artist and a foodie, she is also a life member to the Indian Society of the Red Cross.)

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