India's largest patient body celebrates success
People for Better Treatment (PBT), the largest patient grievances body of India formed by NRI doctor Kunal Saha, on Monday observed its 12th anniversary with an open public seminar here in the backdrop of the historic Supreme Court judgement in which it awarded a compensation of Rs 11.4 crore to the doctor for the death of his wife Anuradha in 1998 during a social visit to India from USA.
According to Saha, who was himself present, over the past year, PBT has made major strides to prevent medical negligence and remove the rampant corruption in the healthcare system awareness programs and PILs.
The historic judgment on Oct 24, 2013 by Supreme Court awarding highest-ever compensation (Rs. 11.4 crore including interest) against AMRI Hospital and three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and Balaram Prasad) for causing death of Anuradha Saha from gross medical negligence has rekindled hope for justice for the hapless patients of India.
"But wide-spread corruption still seems to have a firm grip over the entire healthcare delivery system both at the central (MCI) and state (WBMC) levels. IMA and other medical groups have already started crying foul and demanded that doctors should be above Consumers Protection Act (CPA). IMA wants that there must be a limit (cap) on compensation in 'medical negligence' cases to protect the errant doctors. Will IMA support a 'cap' on limitless hospital bills and medical charges that are destroying countless patients' families across India? " asked Saha, who launched a crusade against the corrupt healthcare system in India in the course of fighting his own case in various Indian courts.
The PBT claimed success in the following cases:
1) Criminal indictment of WBMC members (Calcutta HC, 1st July, 2013): 17 doctor-members of the last West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) including president Dr. Ashok Chowdhury were ordered by Calcutta HC (C.R.R. No. 4243/2011) to stand trial on charges of "criminal conspiracy" (IPC Section 120b) and "screening offender" (IPC Section 201) for deliberate attempt to shield two negligent doctors (Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee and Dr. Baidyanath Halder).
2) Election for new WBMC (Calcutta HC, 16th Jan., 2013): Based on their PIL (W.P. No. 8971W/2013), Calcutta HC ordered to dissolve the undemocratically formed "Adhoc Committee" by a few alleged ruling Trinomool Congress-backed doctors which was running WBMC and to hold fresh election to form new and democratic medical council. PBT alleged that new election was also rigged by the doctors belonging to the ruling group which PBT has also challenged vide W.P. No. 15944W/2013.
3) Bringing disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai to justice (SC, 18th Feb., 2013): Despite his red-handed arrest by CBI with Rs. 2 crore of bribe money, disgraced ex-MCI president Dr. Ketan Desai managed to return to MCI by winning "unopposed" the senate seat from Gujarat University. In response to their PIL (SC SLP 3408/2013), Supreme Court directed that Gujarat Univ. must investigate Dr. Desai's election to the senate. A case in this matter is now pending before Gujarat High Court.
4) To hold fair MCI Election (Calcutta HC, 4th Dec., 2013): To assure formation of an honest MCI, Calcutta HC admitted their PIL (W.P. No. 35159/2013) and issued Notice to MCI and Health Ministry for holding MCI election in a fair and impartial manner. The newly formed MCI (where most Dr. Desai's cronies managed to win) is contingent on the outcome of our PIL.
5) Enhancement of punishment for guilty doctors (Calcutta HC, 30th Apr., 2013): Calcutta HC has admitted PBT petition (W.P. No. 3993W/2013) for enhancement of paltry period (3 months) of license suspension of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee/Dr. Baidyanath Halder by MCI for causing death of Anuradha. Final verdict in this important matter is expected soon.
6) Helping victims of medical negligence: PBT has continued efforts to help the hapless victims of medical negligence find justice in court of law and medical council through awareness programs and by pressing appropriate medical councils. In some cases, PBT has also appeared before the consumer court to argue on behalf of the victims.
7) New Branches across India: New PBT offices have been established in 2013 in all corners of India including Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad. They have also opened new Kolkata office at 1 Indra Ray Road (1st Floor, Room. 9), Opp. Indira Cinema, Kol 700025.
(Posted on 31-12-2013)