With the improvement in the treatment outcomes, there was an expectation that the doctor-patient relationship will further improve in trust as patients will have a more clarity and say in their health outcomes, but lately we are seeing a reverse phenomenon.
Talk to any doctor in the country and you will find a resentment, a fear of prosecution.
And indeed there are reasons behind this fear - frequent assaults on the doctors, filing every complication as a case of negligence and lately a trend to defame them on the social media.
Doctors say it is a part of a “trend towards the criminalisation of healthcare”, which has seen many healthcare professionals charged, prosecuted or convicted for gross medical negligence in a year.
Of course it’s a tragedy when somebody dies or get complications in some medical condition but putting a criminal case is not the way to address that. We can’t use criminal law in medicine, that is way too harsh.
"Over six bodies are already investigating any form of negligence, based on patient complaints, and Government wants to add another one everytime! It is as if our profession is being equated with criminals and goons. My main concern is that you cannot imprison doctors." said Dr Devi Prasad Shetty in context of the proposed new healthcare law.
"Criminals, not doctors should be booked under sections of criminal law, specially when they have tried their best."
“If the criminal law is going to be used in medicine, you’re not going to to do it [operate] when it comes to high-risk patients who have any risk of dying. We try to use every method we can to save a patient but if the result is not favourable then the patient will sue us, claiming that we shouldn’t have tried that method. The reality is that even we don’t know which method might work, which might not.” said another doctor.
"There has to be more deliberation on what constitutes negligence."
"Another major conflict is the cost of healthcare, but being doctors we have a very little role to play in that. The equipments cost, the medicines costs are decided by the companies and they can only be regulated by the government, not by us. But being the face of the healthcare, doctors face the brunt of their(companies, corporates) cost policies."
Doctors are not against patients as a perception has been created lately, they both are on the same side and effort should be made to change the perception. Both should try to work in the best interest of the patients but same time we should also ensure protection to doctors if we want them to try their best.
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