New Delhi: With the rising medical negligence cases against medical practitioners, doctors (surgeons and physicians) being subjected to criminal prosecution are at an all time high.
The criminal process once initiated subjects the medical professional to serious embarrassment and harassment. Later, even if they may be exonerated by acquittal or discharge but the loss which he has suffered in his reputation cannot be compensated by any standards.
Keeping this in mind, Medical Council of India is soon going to lay down Guidelines for protecting Doctors from Frivolous or Unjust Prosecution Against Medical Negligence.
It is reported that a Study Group was appointed under the Chairmanship of Prof. Dr Ved Prakash Mishra, Chaiman Academic Committee of the Medical Council of India (MCI), to make the draft guidelines whose recommendations have been now accepted by the Executive committee and the General Body of the MCI.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues Team, Dr Mishra stated ” These recommendations of the Medical Council of India are in the context of the guidelines that have been pronounced by the Hon’ble Supreme Court with reference to involvement of criminal negligence on part of the Registered Medical Practitioners and the need for diligent care and caution with reference to arrest of the said doctor on prima facie establishment of criminal negligence on his /her part with a rider that the same be established by an expert group rather than the investigating officer who does not have the requisite expertise for the same vide the pronouncement of the Hon’ble Supremen Court in case of Jacob Mathews Case.”
“This contemplates arrest of the doctor under Section 304 A of the Indian Penal Code which is non bailable in character and hence the need of requisite abundant caution lest no infraction of justice takes place including the tarnishing of the prestige and reputation of the accused doctor concerned,” he added
Following are the guidelines(draft) approved by the council
Guidelines for protecting Doctors from Frivolous or Unjust Prosecution Against Medical Negligence
The Medical Council of India proposes the following guidelines to be observed by the prosecuting agencies for protecting doctors against frivolous complaints/prosecution
- The Prosecuting Agency on receipt of any complaint of which criminal rashness or negligence is an ingredient against a registered medical practitioner under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 prior to making arrest refer the complaint to the Chief Medical Officer of a District who shall place it before the District Medical Board for its recommendations as regards the merit of the allegations of criminal rashness or negligence, contained in the complaint.
- The District Medical Board on receipt of such a reference examine the allegation contained therein within two-weeksfrom the date of its receipt and forward its recommendation to the Prosecuting Agency through the Chief Medical Officer of the District.
- The District Medical Board that has examined the complaint must ensure a Doctor qualified in that branch of medical science is part of the Board.
- The Prosecuting Agency, in case, it is dissatisfied with the recommendation of the District Medical Board may by stating the reasons for such dissatisfaction refer the matter to the State Medical Board for its recommendation within a period of two weeks from the date of receipt of recommendation of the District Medical Board.
- The State Medical Board, on receipt of any such reference from the Prosecuting Agency would examine the matter within a period of two-weeks from the date of receipt of such reference. The State Medical Board shall provide reason for endorsing or rejecting the recommendation of the Divisional (District) Medical Board.
- The Prosecuting Agency on the receipt of Recommendation of the District/State Medical Board may further proceed in the matter in accordance with law. However, in case arrest of a registered medical practitioner in the employment of State/Central Government is being made, the Controlling Officer of such Medical Practitioner would be informed by the Prosecuting Agency. Likewise, in case, the registered medical practitioner is engaged in private practice, the concerned State Medical Council, or in case there is no State Medical Council in that State/Union Territory, the Medical Council of India be informed.
The above-said guidelines may be incorporated in the stipulated guidelines with respect to arrest to be imposed by the police authorities in continuation of the guidelines governing before the arrest, during the arrest, after the arrest, guidelines for arrest of Women, Judicial Officer, Member of Parliament/Legislative Assembly, Children and the guidelines for rest of Armed Forces Personnel and Govt. employees
The Executive Committee of the council in its meeting 5th June 2018 further added that the District Medical Board should have a specialist (from Govt.) in the concerned subject with adequate experience and there should also be one member from IMA
“The council has approved the guidelines and sent it to the Central Government for approval and notification. We hope that the government will soon incorporate these guidelines and make known to all concerned enforcing authorities, so that doctors are not unnecessarily prosecuted on accusations of medical negligence,” Dr Mishra added