THERE have been quite a few shocking cases of patients dying, or their condition becoming worse because the medical practitioner or the hospital staff neglected their duties. The reason is the absence of accountability, especially beyond the purview of their institutions.
The Consumer Rights Protection Act 2009 has the provision for a patient to file a suit in the case of negligence in the service provided by the hospital or member of the medical profession. But there are loopholes in this Act which makes it ineffectual when dealing with medical negligence.
The relevant sections of the Act that could be applied to medical negligence are not sufficient in terms of meting out punishments proportionate to the crime.
The convoluted process of filing a complaint to the Director General or head of the department first before it can reach the Magistrate, that too, if that authority thinks it is valid, makes it virtually impossible for the wronged patient to seek redress.
Our lawmakers must now step in to streamline the procedure to make the errant medical practitioners accountable and ensure tougher penal provisions.
Moreover, the term 'medical profession' must be made expressly inclusive in the Consumer Protection Act as in India.