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MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE – THE CURRENT OUTLOOK

INTRODUCTION

The Delhi State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission held when ruling on a consumer complaint that was filed that the doctor was not at fault for unsuccessful treatment. The bench comprising Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal and Judicial Member Pinki upheld the district commission’s verdict, stating that they agree with the reasons provided by the commission and find no grounds to overturn its findings. This order was issued on May 1st.

The bench stated that if a doctor fulfil their responsibilities with adequate skill and competence, they cannot be considered negligent. They are legally protected as long as they adhere to these standards. The commission concluded that the appellant failed to provide any evidence to support her claim before both the district commission and the current commission. Therefore, the commission believes that the appellant has been unable to prove any negligence on the part of the respondent in the current case.

BACKGROUND

As the appeal was being heard, Divya Chauhan, the appellant, claimed that she had spent more than Rs. 210,000 and had seen Dr SP Aggarwal, the respondent in the case, 50 times on time, resulting in irreparable harm to her teeth and jawline. For the doctor’s alleged unfair trade practises and professional misconduct, the appellant requested a return of Rs. 19,000 and compensation of Rs. 15, 21,000 in her appeal to the commission. The commission further stated that the above-mentioned reason alone cannot become the basis for holding the respondent liable for medical negligence since sometimes, despite the best efforts of the doctors, the patients may not favourably respond to the provided treatment, failing to improve. The court then considered that the appellant had vaguely alleged that the doctor had committed negligence as a result of which the appellant did not see any improvement in her jaw/teeth lining.

UNDERSTANDING MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

When medical personnel stray from recognised standards of care and injured patients, it is referred to as medical negligence or medical malpractice. It covers a wide variety of behaviours, including misdiagnosis, poor treatment, drug errors, surgical errors, and birth traumas. Patients and their families may suffer physical and psychological harm as a result of these situations. Patients and their loved ones may suffer long-term effects as a result of medical neglect. In addition to physical harm, sufferers could also go through financial hardships, emotional pain, and a loss of faith in the medical community. Families frequently struggle to deal with the fallout while attempting to restore their lives and searching for justice and answers. Medical malpractice has an impact that extends beyond the direct parties involved since it can erode public confidence in the medical community.[1]

THE CURRENT OUTLOOK

To combat medical malpractice, several nations have recognised the necessity for legislative reforms. They seek to improve patient rights, develop more precise standards for professional behaviour, and make sure that victims receive just recompense. To expedite trials involving medical negligence and offer specialised competence in addressing these complicated issues, certain jurisdictions have established specialised courts or tribunals. It is essential to disclose medical mistakes and near-misses to spot trends and potential areas for improvement. Healthcare organisations are urged to promote a culture of openness where staff members may share errors and grow from them. Additionally, individuals can make knowledgeable decisions about their care because of public access to data on healthcare providers’ performance. [2]

One of the most effective ways to reduce medical malpractice is to educate patients about their rights, available treatments, and possible hazards. Organisations and NGOs that advocate for patients are working nonstop to inform the public and help individuals who are impacted. Improvements are also being made to informed consent procedures to guarantee that patients are aware of their treatments and their outcomes. Technology and digital healthcare solutions have the potential to increase patient safety and decrease medical malpractice. Electronic health records, telemedicine platforms, and clinical decision support systems give healthcare workers access to comprehensive patient data, helping them to diagnose patients more accurately and fostering better teamwork. Organisations and groups that support patients play a crucial role in educating the public about medical misconduct and providing assistance to individuals who are affected.[3] These organisations work to educate the public about patient rights, available therapies, and potential risks. By providing resources and information, they encourage patients to become more involved in their care. Additionally, efforts are being made to improve the informed consent processes, ensuring that patients are fully informed about their therapies and their implications.

The goal is to empower patients and enhance their overall experience with the healthcare system through patient advocacy and education. The use of technology in healthcare has the potential to significantly improve patient safety and lower instances of malpractice. Healthcare professionals have access to detailed patient information, including medical history, prescription information, and allergy information, thanks to electronic health records (EHRs). This knowledge enhances communication between care teams, enabling more precise diagnoses, and lowering the possibility of prescription mistakes. Clinical decision support systems, which offer evidence-based recommendations and warnings, assist medical practitioners in making wise choices and avoiding mistakes.

Platforms for telemedicine provide remote consultations, enhancing patient access to care and lowering mistakes in diagnosis and treatment. For healthcare practitioners to maintain high standards of care and reduce malpractice, ongoing education and training are essential. Patient safety, ethics, and good communication should be the main topics of medical training programmes. Healthcare workers may keep current on the most recent developments and best practices in their industries by pursuing ongoing professional development. Organisations may encourage responsibility, improve patient care, and lower the incidence of medical misconduct by investing in education and training.[4]

CONCLUSION

Medical malpractice is still a problem that needs constant attention and preventative action. The present state of medical malpractice shows a rising understanding of the necessity for changes to increase patient safety, legal protections, and systemic accountability. We can work towards a healthcare system that prioritises patient well-being and reduces instances of medical negligence by embracing openness, encouraging patient advocacy, utilising technology, and investing in professional development. In the end, we can only secure the provision of high-quality treatment and re-establish faith in the medical community through concerted efforts. The present perspective on medical malpractice reflects a rising understanding of the necessity for changes to increase patient safety, legal protections, and systemic responsibility. We can strive towards a healthcare system that prioritises patient well-being and reduces instances of medical negligence by embracing openness, encouraging patient advocacy, utilising technology, and investing in professional development. We must work together to assure the provision of high-quality treatment and re-establish confidence in the medical community.

Author(s) Name: Arpit Tiwari (Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad)

References:

[1] Medical Negligence, 3.1 JCLJ (2022) 1496

[2] Negligence and Medical Negligence (Jacob Mathews v. State of Punjab), 2.4 JCLJ (2022) 2090

[3] Medical negligence during Covid-19 : Did we successfully implemented Section 304A IPC?, 2.3 JCLJ (2022) 283

[4] Medical Negligence and Consumer Justice: Regulatory Mechanism Other than Consumer Protection Act, 1986, 19 ALJ (2008-09) 105