British Medical Journal (BMJ), a top international medical journal, published a highly provocative “head to head” debate article in the wake of the recent large compensation granted by Supreme Court of India in Anuradha Saha wrongful death case with an interesting question: “Are large compensation payouts for negligence good for medicine in India?” (see the article below). PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has provided logical arguments as to why under the present pitiful condition of the healthcare delivery system, direct intervention by the court of law through large compensation in medical negligence cases may be the only way to reduce incidence of malpractice and healthcare corruption in India. On the other side, Dr. Devi Shetty, a cardiac surgeon and treasurer of Association of Healthcare Providers of India (APHI), criticized the large compensation awarded by the Apex Court in Anuradha death case as he has painted a doomsday scenario if a limit or “cap” on the amount of compensation is not set in medical negligence cases for the future. In fact, Dr. Shetty has suggested that courts of law should not even judge negligence cases against doctors. Instead, Dr. Shetty has proposed that Ministry of Health should convene a medical “Committee” to decide malpractice cases against doctors.
We would like to inform Dr. Shetty and his medical groups who are defending negligent doctors/hospitals that a similar “Committee” organized by central health ministry already exists in India for decades which is known as Medical Council of India (MCI). Unfortunately, it is a common knowledge today that MCI is nothing but a “den of corruption” that only works to shield negligent doctors and that is looting crores of rupees through bribery from private medical colleges by sacrificing the standard of medical education in India. But perhaps most surprisingly, in order to defend negligent medicos, Dr. Shetty has attempted to promote a grossly misleading and/or erroneous notion that a “cap” or limit on compensation also exists in “medical negligence” cases in USA. As PBT president has explained in his article, there is no “cap” or limit on compensation for direct loss of income (“pecuniary damages”) for death of a patient anywhere in USA. This was also presented by PBT president before the Hon’ble Supreme Court where he appeared “in person” to argue his wife’s (Anuradha Saha) death case and Apex Court has quoted these large compensations routinely awarded in USA in the historic judgment delivered last October. We wonder whether Dr. Shetty and other IMA leaders are spreading these baseless rumors on “cap” in USA deliberately or are they simply ignorant about facts?