MEDICOLEGAL PROJECT : THE HELPLINE OF AMC
(Providing Succour to doctors in distress since 2 decades)
The Association of Medical Consultants, now into it’s 34th year of existence, is a unique Association in as much as it provides a common platform to consultant doctors of all shades of specialities. It’s functions are basically non-academic and it is best known for the pioneering lead it has given to the medical profession in identifying, analysing and resolving the medico-legal problems faced by doctors.
All this is done by the Medico-Legal Cell of the Association which constitutes the Flagship of the organisation. It has built up over the years, with single-minded dedication, a vast fund of know-how for tackling problems concerning medical litigation.
This aspect of medical practice was identified by the Association much before it assumed its present proportions. The Association’s forecasts of explosion in the dimensions of the problem proved to be ominously right.
The Medico-Legal Cell has assisted to date hundreds of consultants and some general practitioners as well. The Cell was established nearly 20 years ago and it sub-serves the following functions :
- 1.) Provides telephonic advice to members in a variety of situations, for example, at the time of occurrence of a medical mishap or complication when important and irreversible decisions may have to be taken immediately.
- 2.) In case the situation warrants, a few members of the Cell physically make themselves present at the side of the doctor to help tide over the emergency situation.
- 3.) It provides guidance and assistance in urgent situations such as action by police in cases where criminal charges are levelled, say under section 304 A, etc.
- 4.) Assists in replying to legal notices, complaints before civil courts, criminal courts, consumer forums or even medical council.
- 5.) It has established painstakingly a strong panel of advocates who have fine-tuned their skills in the field of medical litigation, who have empathy for doctors and their problems and do their very best to defend the doctor in conjunction with the Medico-Legal Cell.
- 6.) Helps in registering claims under the professional liability insurance with the insurance company and monitors the subsequent conduct of the insurance company to ensure compliance of its commitments and liabilities.
- 7.) Assists in obtaining technical references on a particular subject through journals, medicine, etc.
Please remember that it pays to fight back and it is not all that difficult to do so. Undoubtedly, Unity is strength but more than that please remember, Unity is a WEAPON.
Lastly, reflect on the following words : “Those who are weak and unorganised suffer atrocities and injustice.”
PREVENTION, BETTER THAN CURE !
On the inclusion of medical practitioners in the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, this Association took the stand that this was a distortion of the Act and by no stretch of imagination could terms such as ‘unfair trade practices’ and ‘consumer’ be applied in the medical setting.
However, the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the Act to medical practitioners and hence the Association had decided to gear up to the new scenario and
assist and guide members facing cases under the CPA. A panel of advocates has already been appointed so as to provide timely legal assistance.
An MOU is signed with the New India Assurance Co. in order to streamline the working of the professional indemnity Insurance. This MOU will confer benefits exclusively to our members.
It is proposed to create a corpus of funds and establish a medico-legal Insurance scheme by the Association. The feasibility of such a scheme is being worked out. Each issue of “The Grasp” carries an article entitled “DO’S AND DON’TS” by Dr. Lalit Kapoor in which the author, who has a vast experience in the Medico-legal Project of AMC, shares his experience with the members. These articles have tremendous educational value for the members. To reiterate the famous words of the author “Let us learn to be safe today than sorry tomorrow.”
REPORT OF MEDICO-LEGAL CELL 2006 – 2007 Chairman – Dr. Lalit Kapoor
Convener – Dr. Ajit Desai
Memebrs – Dr. Rajeev Walawalkar, Dr. Manoj Patel, Dr. Mukesh Gupta, Dr. Rajesh Gandhi, Dr. Suhas Kate
The Medico-Legal Cell of AMC had occasion to guide and assist a number of our members this year in dealing with legal notices received by them, allegations by patients and notices from Consumer fora and other agencies. There does seem to be some decline in the number of such cases this year. We have been giving a brief summary of these cases since last few years. However , we have decided to dispense with this practice since (a) the type of cases are very similar if not identical and it tends to get repetitive and (b) the increased costs of printing coupled with paucity of funds has made it expedient for us to do away with this practice. Suffice it to say that there was a definite decline in the number of cases.
There are of course a few areas of concern which need to be mentioned.
- 1.) Despite repeated exhortations, members are still not keeping satisfactory patient records. Shabby and inadequate case papers are posing difficulties in the defence of the case.
- 2.) Some members continue to take unacceptable risks in treating patients who in fact ought to be managed in better equipped centres.
- 3.) Matters in which criminal cases are filed are posing a new problem. Expert committees from State hospitals, to whom these matters are referred for opinion by the Police, are exhibiting an excessive bias against the doctors or hospitals in question. For example, a small nursing home was faulted for not having a ventilator and this was cited as evidence of negligence. The norms need to be settled once for all so that unreasonable expectations from small set-ups are not made to look like deficiencies.
Another major area of concern has been the inefficiency of the Professional Indemnity Insurance. You are aware that the present Policy is not meeting our needs and expectations. Lawyer’s bills are not being re-imbursed as per the actuals but as per their own schedule. The MoU signed with the New India Assurance Co. was being followed neither in letter nor in spirit. Consequently ,we have had laborious discussions with a number of other Insurance Companies and have now drafted a new MoU to be entered into with Oriental Insurance Co. Hopefully this would be finalized this year after a few pending issues are resolved. The details will be conveyed to you after they are ready.
The help we are able to give our members is still far from adequate and we are trying to find out how members can be helped in an even more effective manner. We need suggestions and assistance from all of you. Though we have come a long way from earlier days, much more needs to be done. We hope to use our combined skills and experience along with your support to do precisely this