The recent “deal” between the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and central health ministry that has already agreed to consider 5 specific demands made by India’s largest medical lobby (IMA) to bring new laws or amendments in the existing laws can be described only in one way that Indian doctors now want their virtual “untouchable” status to be formally recognized by the law. One of major demands made by our healers’ organization (IMA) is that there must be a “cap” or maximum limit on the compensation awarded in medical negligence cases.
We need to think what would happen in the real world if such a law is allowed by the government. Even on the rare occasion when the family of a victim of medical negligence is able to establish that their loved one died solely due to the reckless treatment by the doctor/hospital, they may be able to get a compensation of maximum five or ten lakh rupees as the IMA has claimed. It is a common knowledge today that treatment in a private hospital for few days or weeks even for an ordinary illness may easily cost the patient and his/her family lakhs of rupees as hospital costs and doctors’ fees. Top doctors and hospitals can make a profit of five or ten lakh rupees from each patient in few days or weeks. If the new law to impose a “cap”, as demanded by the IMA, is approved by the government, there would hardly be any reason for any victim to approach the consumer court (under the Consumer Protection Act) to seek damages against the errant doctor/hospital because the long-drawn legal fight may cost the victim more than he can eventually recover from the court – what a travesty of justice that would be for our society. Perhaps more important, such a scenario would be a strong stimulant for all doctors to be even less careful during treatment of their patients. In the end, it would result in more unfortunate death of innocent patients from “medical negligence” across India.