Gujarat High Court (HC) division bench of Justices Mr. Jayant Patel and Mr. Z.K. Saiyed disposed of the public interest litigation (PIL) filed against the inaction on part of Gujarat University (GU) after PBT lodged a complaint against disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai for his unlawful entry in the university senate with a direction that PBT may approach the Gujarat Govt. with a new application seeking to remove Dr. Desai from the GU senate under Section 58 of Gujarat Univ. Act. Soon after the arrest of Dr. Desai by CBI for taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010, Desai’s medical registration was suspended indefinitely following a complaint lodged by PBT. But using sinister influence, Desai managed to get himself elected “unopposed” to the GU senate as a medical man despite being criminally indicted with a suspended medical license. After PBT moved the Supreme Court, leave was granted to move the “authority” (GU) for removal of Desai from the university. But repeated appeals to the GU fell in deaf ears as PBT was compelled to move the Gujarat HC again to bring justice to Desai. The order passed by Gujarat HC asking PBT to move a new application with the state government, while may take more time, it may force GU to expel Desai. Ironically, by virtue of his GU senate position, Desai also managed recently to get himself elected “unopposed” to the MCI. While Desai himself has not yet joined MCI as a member, the newly formed MCI is being ruled mostly by Desai’s cronies. PBT has also written to the new health minister, Dr. Harsh Bardhan, seeking him imminent intervention to cleanse MCI and to take exemplary action against Desai and his cronies in order to restore public trust on the medical education and healthcare delivery system. PBT is the only reputed organization that has been fighting relentlessly against corrupt medical mafias including Desai and his numerous cronies.
Supreme Court special bench of Justices Mr. C.K. Prasad and Mr. V. Gopala Gowda severely criticized AMRI hospital for deducting Rs. 1.06 crore for income tax as “tax deducted at source” (TDS) from the “compensation” imposed on the hospital for the wrongful death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha (news below). On October 24, 2013, Apex Court delivered historic judgment in Anuradha case awarding highest-ever compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore including interest against AMRI hospital and three top Kolkata doctors including present “chief adviser” for West Bengal health department, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee. AMRI had earlier sought extra time to pay the compensation which was rejected by the Apex Court. After AMRI failed to pay the entire compensation on time, Dr. Saha filed a “contempt” petition against AMRI hospital. When the matter was taken up by the court this week, it was found that AMRI had withheld more than Rs. 1.06 crore from the compensation on the plea of TDS. The Apex Court took serious view this action by AMRI hospital because “compensation” for wrongful death of a patient should not be considered as “income” for the victim’s family. At the direction of the court, AMRI was compelled to pay a check in the amount of Rs. 1.06 crore to Dr. Saha who was present in the courtroom. The Apex Court also directed that all other discrepancies in the amount paid by AMRI hospital must be sorted out within two weeks. The “contempt” has been listed for final hearing on 30th July, 2014.
The level of healthcare corruption in India is double to that of the rest of the world – this shocking finding was revealed in the top international medical journal, British Medical Journal (BMJ). In an editorial published in the latest issue of BMJ, it is claimed that wide-spread corruption among doctors and healthcare workers has steadily eroded public trust and respect for doctors. Lack of accountability in both public and private health sectors has been found primarily responsible for the spread of corruption in the medical system in India. The article has stressed that doctors must fight back against “kickbacks” to restore public trust. The article has highlighted“People for Better Treatment” for their relentless campaign to instill accountability in Indian healthcare system. (see the article below)
Newly elected central health minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has called the Medical Council of India (MCI) as a “source of corruption” and promised that the BJP government will act promptly to cleanse MCI, highest body empowered to regulate medical education and take action against negligent and unethical doctors, in an interview published in Indian Express today (see below). Until 2010, MCI was under direct control of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai but after he was caught red-handed by the CBI while taking bribe in April, 2010, previous UPA government (under leadership of last health minister, Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad) was compelled to disband MCI under immense public pressure. But Desai and his medical cronies have recaptured MCI as a new MCI was formed last December with most of known Desai cronies have regained the top positions in the MCI through botched election and extraneous manipulation. PBT has already filed a lawsuit challenging the botched MCI election. PBT has also lodged several complaints against improper election/nomination of many of Desai cronies in the present MCI but unfortunately, Mr. Azad showed no interest to take any action to the specific complaints lodged by PBT against which PBT is planning to move the court soon. We welcome the call to cleanse MCI by the new health minister but only time will say whether the new warning signal to MCI is another empty political rhetoric by the new party in power or our new health minister, a physician himself, truly means business. Millions of hapless patients and ordinary people of India only hope for the latter.
British Medical Journal (BMJ), world-renowned medical journal published from UK, published a revealing experience of Dr. David Berger, an Australian doctor in Emergency medicine who volunteered to work in an Indian hospital recently, underscoring the harmful effects of the wide-spread corruption in Indian healthcare system. Dr. Berger has found evidence of bribery and commission everywhere and described healthcare corruption in India “like a cancer”. The author has painted a dismal picture and indicated that unless corruption is removed from the medical system soon, it may have more devastating effects not only for the hapless patients of India and also for the Indian doctors who aspires to be trained specialized medicine in developed countries. We publish the entire BMJ article by Dr. Berger (see below) with a prayer and hope for that the newly appointed central health minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, will notice and take concrete steps to eradicate the rampant corruption from Indian healthcare delivery system. PBT has recently submitted an urgent memorandum to Dr. Harsh Vardhan drawing his attention to the continued corruption in the newly formed Medical Council of India (MCI).
PBT’s relentless effort to bring justice for all victims of “medical negligence” received a major boost today as Mr. Sudhir Kumar Srivastava, an ardent supporter and PBT life-member, was informed by Medical Council of India (MCI) that they have directed to cancel medical registration of Dr. Vipul Shah, a general surgeon in Lucknow, for a period of 5 years for unethical behavior and negligent therapy causing untimely demise of Mr. Srivastava’s wife, Mrs. Nidhi Srivastav, who died from acute liver failure after Dr. Shah administered astronomical dosage of two hepatoxic drugs ignoring the patient’s grossly abnormal liver function test (LFT). MCI also found Dr. Shah guilty for blatant violation of minimal ethical standard that all doctors in India must observe. Ironically, the U.P. Medical Council (UPMC) had earlier acquitted Dr. Shah as they found no medical or ethical violation by the accused doctor.
Mr. Srivastava came to PBT in 2010 seeking help to find justice after his wife died from gross medical negligence when she was only 40 leaving behind three young children, two daughters (13, 11) and a son (7). With proper guidance and support from PBT, Mr. Srivastava fought tirelessly over the past 4 years and finally brought medical justice to Dr. Vipul Shah, a highly influential surgeon with thriving practice in Lucknow, as MCI suspended his license to practice medicine for a period of 5 years (see Dr. Shah’s resume and picture below which was obtained from the web). Mr. Srivastava’s legal case in the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) seeking a compensation of Rs. 5.5 crore and a separate criminal case are still pending.
There are several distinct and highly important aspects in the MCI verdict against Dr. Shah that may have major implications in other cases involving medical malpractice. Apart from the negligent therapy, Dr. Shah was also found guilty for “unethical” behavior including:
1) Using “misleding degrees” after his name.
2) Making false claim in his letterhead that he was also “practicing in US and UK”.
3) Using false “logo of American Academy of Cerebral Palsy”.
4) Practicing in West Bengal and Delhi once every month, without intimation to the state medical council.
For these “unethical” misconduct, MCI suspended Dr. Shah’s license for a period of 2 years while an additional 3 years suspension was imposed on Dr. Shah because of his negligent treatment (see complete MCI Order below)
This is a significant victory not only for Mr. Srivastav’s family but also for PBT as it brings a new ray of hope for millions of hapless victims of “medical negligence” whose complaints against the errant doctors are still languishing in different state medical councils and MCI. The momentous verdict by MCI also underscores the presence of rampant corruption in the state medical councils in India. How the doctor-only members of U.P. Medical Council found nothing wrong with the negligent treatment or unethical behavior by Dr. Shah which was grossly wrong to the members of MCI? A similar situation also occurred with the historic case of Anuradha Saha as members of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) gave a clean chit to all three doctors who were later found responsible for Anuradha’s death not only by MCI but also by the Apex Court. The entire WBMC doctor-members were indicted by Calcutta High Court in 2011 in an unprecedented criminal case under IPC Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”) and section 201 (“shielding offender”). It remains to be seen whether doctor-members of U.P. Medical Council face any criminal charge for conspiracy for their seemingly devious action. But the good news is that our unrelenting fight against negligent treatment and healthcare corruption has finally started to produce meaningful impact on the flawed medical regulatory system. It must also be remembered that Mr. Srivastava’s appeal against the U.P. Medical Council’s acquittal of Dr. Shah (under section 8.8 of MCI “Code of Ethics & Regulations”) was possible only because of PBT’s historic PIL in Supreme Court of India (W.P. Civil No. 317/2000) which eventually resulted introduction of sections 8.7 and 8.8 in the MCI “Code of Ethics and Regulations” in 2004.
In celebration of “Rogi Divas” (Patients’ Day) today (May 28), PBT holds huge public seminar in Kolkata to spread public awareness about patients’ rights and fighting pervasive medical negligence in hospitals and nursing homes across India. Earlier in the morning, PBT submitted a memorandum with the West Bengal Governor, Mr. M.K. Narayanan, with six-point demands:
1) To investigate and stringent action for police brutality against several PBT members and innocent victims of medical negligence during a peaceful demonstration last week in Kolkata.
2) To form a “fast track” court for rapid disposal of cases involving “medical negligence”.
3) To form an independent body to oversee functioning of the state medical council.
4) Strict implementation of “Clinical Establishment Act” for protection of hapless patients against financial and medical manipulation by doctors/hospitals.
5) To direct medical councils to dispose of all complaints against doctors within 6 months as stipulated under law.
6) To shut down AMRI Hospital in Kolkata that has declared financial insolvency before Supreme Court (in Anuradha Saha death case) to protect the innocent patients who are treated there every day. (see Statesman news below)
Copy of PBT’s memorandum submitted with the Governor is attached below. PBT calls all patients and conscientious citizens to join us and stand up to for your fundamental rights and demand ethical and careful treatment from all hospitals/doctors.
PBT today filed an urgent petition with Kolkata Police Commissioner, Mr. Surajit Kar Purkayastha, seeking full investigation of Tuesday’s (May 20) falsified charges and blatant arrest of several PBT members and victims of medical negligence who gathered to peacefully protest against selection of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, doctor convicted by Supreme Court for causing death of Anuradha Saha, with the prestigious “Bangabhibushan” award by Bengal chief minister, Ms. Mamata Banerjee. PBT has also demanded that Police Commissioner must take exemplary disciplinary action against the police officers who were involved with this botched operation against innocent PBT members and victims of medical malpractice within a period of 7 days failing which PBT may take appropriate legal action against the Bengal police department. After the deplorable attack on PBT members and victims of medical negligence who came to attend PBT’s peaceful demonstration by a rogue police force, wide-spread public uproar has erupted across West Bengal against the dictatorial leadership by the Mamata Banerjee government. Incidentally, Calcutta High Court has show-caused Banerjee government directing them to file affidavit within two weeks explaining how a doctor who was convicted for “medical negligence” with scathing observations by the Apex Court could be bestowed with the highest honor in medicine by the State.
For the first time in PBT’s more than 13-year history of helping victims of “medical negligence” and fighting medical corruption, six innocent and law-abiding citizens were harassed, threatened, apprehended in a police van and detained at the police station for 5-6 hours only for appearing before the venue (Science City in Kolkata) to stage a silent and peaceful demonstration (with prior intimation to the police) against the unprecedented selection of Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, most well-known negligent physician in India who was found responsible for death of Anuradha Saha by Supreme Court, for the “Bangabibhushan” award, highest Honor from the State of West Bengal. The police assured that no protest against the government will be tolerated by the Mamata Banerjee government by holding the PBT supporters in the police station until the award ceremony was over. Most shockingly, police also charged the six detained person under Section 151 CrPC (arrest to prevent cognizable offences). These six innocent persons included three women and also three hapless victims of medical negligence who came to PBT seeking help to find justice for their departed family member.
Earlier in the day, a vacation bench of Calcutta High Court took cognizance of a writ petition filed by Anuradha’s husband and PBT presidnet, Dr. Kunal Saha, challenging the deliberate and mala fide section of convicted Dr. Mukherjee. The HC has directed the state government to file affidavit how Dr. Mukherjee was chosen for the highest honor despite Apex Court holding him guilty for medical negligence and ethical violation. The court further said that the Bangabibhushan given to Dr. Mukherjee will be subjected to the outcome of this write petition which will be heard after regular court opens on 17th May, 2014 (see the news below).
In a deliberate and sinister move to demoralize all victims of “medical negligence”, Mamata Banerjee’s government in West Bengal has selected Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, notorious doctor held guilty by Supreme Court of India (SC) in 2009 for unethical, reckless and negligent therapy causing death of Anuradha Saha, to receive this year’s “Bangabibhushan”, highest award from the State to the best candidate in medicine (and other professions) in recognition of his remarkable service for the patients of West Bengal. Last year, the Apex Court also imposed highest compensation for medical negligence against Dr. Mukherjee and two other doctors and AMRI Hospital in Kolkata with a scathing observation that Dr. Mukherjee’s role was “unbecoming of a doctor”. The Medical Council of India (MCI) also directed to cancel Dr. Mukherjee’s medical license for negligence and “professional misconduct”. The decision by Banerjee government to bestow the highest Honor from the State to a convicted doctor is not only a slap on SC and entire judicial system, it also sends the wrong message to all honest doctors and public at large. Anuradha’s husband and PBT President, Dr. Kunal Saha, has moved an urgent writ petition before Kolkata High Court seeking injunction on the award ceremony which is scheduled tomorrow (May 20) evening.
In an unprecedented move seemingly to revive disgraced ex-MCI president Dr. Ketan Desai and other negligent/unethical doctors who have been punished by the previous Council under “Board of Governors” (BOG), newly formed MCI Ethics Committee (EC) headed by present president, Dr. Jaysreeben Mehta, has decided to declare that all decisions taken by BOG between May, 2010 (when MCI was dissolved following arrest of then MCI president, Dr. Desai and a 7-member BOG was formed to run MCI) and November, 2013 (when BOG was eliminated and new MCI was formed) would be deemed null and void. In other words, all decisions taken by BOG over the past three and half years including suspension of Dr. Desai’s medical license (in response to PBT’s complaint against Dr. Desai) would be meaningless. Doctors whose registrations have been cancelled/suspended over the past three and half years on charges of “medical negligence” or unethical practice will also rejoice with this development at MCI. This mindless decision by the MCI EC members, most of whom are known cronies of Dr. Desai, will undoubtedly embolden all negligent and corrupt medicos while it sends a chilling signal to the honest doctors and public at large. PBT has already lodged a complaint with the health ministry urging them to intervene in this atrocious act by the MCI. PBT is also planning to move the court of law challenging this sinister and unlawful act by MCI. (see TOI news below)
PBT has filed an urgent memorandum to the central ministry of health urging them to take immediate steps to remove disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, from the Dental Council of India (DCI). In his appeal, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha has written to the secretary of central health ministry that Gujarat University’s recommendation to send Dr. Desai as their representative DCI member is not only against the law, it would also greatly undermine public trust on the dental profession across India. As the highest statutory body for regulation of dental practice in India, DCI performs a very important duty to maintain high standard of dental education and to protect ordinary people from negligent dentists. Dr. Desai who has been criminally indicted by CBI for heinous crime like bribery and corruption and whose license to practice medicine has been suspended by MCI (in response to a complaint by PBT) is unqualified to become a member of DCI (see PBT’s appeal below). A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by PBT against Gujarat University for allowing Dr. Desai to become university senate member is currently pending before Gujarat High Court.Memorandum to Health Ministry (May 7, 2014)
In another unbelievable and shameless act of brazen atrocity, Gujarat University (GU), under the ruling of the Modi Government, nominated disgraced ex-Medical Council of India (MCI) president, Dr. Ketan Desai, as their representative member for the Dental Council of India (see news below). Only a few months ago, GU had nominated Dr. Desai to the newly formed MCI against which PBT has already lodged a formal complaint with the central health ministry. Latest nomination of Dr. Desai to the Dental Council raises serious questions and underscores the firm grip that Desai has not only over the UPA government in the center but also over the Modi government in Gujarat. Ironically, Desai’s medical registration still remains suspended by the MCI (after PBT lodged a formal complaint following his arrest in 2010) and he still remains indicted for criminal offense and facing criminal trial by CBI for serious charges of alleged bribery and corruption.
How a disgraced doctor like Ketan Desai with a suspended license and criminal indictment even be considered for an important and prestigious post in MCI or Dental Council? Even more strange, Dr. Desai is not a dentist but a physician in allopathic medicine. How could he become a member in the Dental Council? A public interest litigation filed by PBT is still pending before Gujarat High Court against the Modi government for allowing Desai to enter the GU Senate. Desai’s nomination to the Dental Council must also be brought to the court. But the larger question that looms large for people of India – why Modi government is still backing a corrupt and disgraced medical mafia like Ketan Desai? Is this the way India would be ruled if BJP manages to win the ongoing election andMr. Modi becomes the next prime minister of India?
Following submission of a new application in Supreme Court last week by Kolkata-base Advance Medicare Research Institute (AMRI) Hospital in which AMRI has claimed that they are financially broke and cannot pay the complete compensation (of Rs. 11.5 crore with interest) at this time which awarded for causing death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha, who died from gross medical negligence during a social visit to India in 2998. Despite having a financially insolvent condition, West Bengal Government, which also holds share of AMRI Hospital, has granted AMRI groups to run several hospitals in the city and recently permitted AMRI’s Dhakuria branch to re-open where at least 90 innocent patients were burnt to death in one of the worst hospital tragedy in history. According to reports appeared in The Statesman today, Bengal’s top health officials, ministers and leaders of Trinomool party have simply refused to provide any answer when asked who would take responsibility if other patients fell victims of “medical negligence” at AMRI Hospitals. Chandrima Bhattacharya, state Health Minister and a close associate of Ms. Mamata Banerjee, has unashamedly said that since this is “election time”, she would not answer any questions involving controversial topic (see the full report below).
AMRI Hospital gives another bank draft of Rs. 1.3 crore today but they have once again brazenly defied Supreme Court (SC) order to pay the full compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore (including interest for the past more than 15 years) for causing death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. The Apex Court held AMRI Hospital and three senior Kolkata doctors (including Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, “chief adviser” for West Bengal government) guilty for “medical negligence” on 24th October, 2013 and directed the hospital to pay the compensation within 8 weeks. AMRI filed an application in December, 2013 seeking 1 year extension of time to pay because of “financial crunch”. But Supreme Court rejected AMRI’s application for extension of time vide an Order dated 30th January, 2014 and directed AMRI to pay the entire compensation within 2.5 months. As the 2.5 months period expired on 15th April, 2014, AMRI has now filed another application claiming further extension of time for 6 months to pay the “interest” which, as it stands today is about Rs. 6 crore and counting .
AMRI has made several astounding claims in their application filed in SC today which sends alarming signal for the West Bengal government. According to AMRI’s new application, as of 31st March, 2014, financial condition of different units of AMRI Hospital is as follows:
1) Vision Care Hospital in Kolkata is incurring “loss of Rs. 75 lakhs per month”.
2) AMRI Hospital at Salt Lake is generating “negligible amount of cash surplus”.
3) AMRI Hospital in Dhakuria is incurring “loss of Rs. 3 crores per month”.
4) AMRI Hospital in Bhubaneswar (opened in Feb, 2014) is incurring “loss of Rs. 2 crores per month”.
Ironically, AMRI has also claimed that they had to take “unsecured loans from Non-Banking Financial Companies at an interest of 12.75% p.a. to pay the principal amount” in order to pay the compensation as directed by Supreme Court of India.
About 90 defenseless patients were burnt to death at AMRI Hospital in Dhakuria in 2011 due to their reckless attitude with fire safety. While criminal as well as civil cases are still languishing in Kolkata courts to bring justice for these innocent patients, Mamata Banerjee government already allowed AMRI Hospital in Dhakuria to reopen and run business (although they have now claimed that this hospital is losing Rs. 3 crores each month). In contrast to the claim of extreme “financial crunch” as raised by AMRI, they built a new hospital in Bhubaneswar only two months ago with a reported cost of Rs. 310 crores. More importantly, if AMRI is truly as financially broke as they have claimed, why Mamata Banerjee government allowed AMRI at Dhakuria to reopen to play with the lives of the hapless patients who may go to this hospital for treatment? Who would pay compensation if any patient dies due to negligent treatment by AMRI hospital? Who would pay compensation to the families of the 90 patients who died from AMRI fire in 2011? A “contempt” petition against the CEO/directors of AMRI hospital for their deliberate disregard of the Apex Court verdict has already been filed by Dr. Saha which is listed for hearing on 5th May, 2014.