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Medical negligence: Rising cases a threat to safe life of citizens

Surgery-3

By Nithin Sridhar

A 65-year old patient in Mumbai, Waman Zare, lost his life due to gross negligence on the part of the doctors treating him.

Waman Zare was being operated in Sion hospital, when the first year resident who was performing the operation left the patient in the middle due to a panic attack. After the doctor left, another first-year post graduate doctor performed the operation that resulted in the death of Waman Zare.

It has been found that the doctor had punctured the left lung instead of the affected right, resulting in the death of the patient, according to Zee News report.

Prevalence of Medical Negligence

This is not the first instance of gross medical negligence leading to the death of innocent people. A woman died after delivering a baby in Doon hospital. The victim’s family is alleging medical negligence on the part of doctors.

Similarly, in Gujarat, relatives of 21-year-old Manish Makwana who died after surgery on July 11, have alleged medical negligence on the part of the hospital.

In 2013, the Supreme Court while delivering its judgment in the Anuradha Saha case, held that the three doctors were guilty of gross dereliction of duty and had awarded a compensation of Rs. 5.96 crores plus interest.

The statistics released by the WHO in 2011 revealed that 1 in every 10 patients admitted in a hospital was harmed and 1 in 300 patients admitted died due to medical errors. It further revealed that around 1.4 million people across the world suffered from infections acquired from hospitals. In some countries, the incidence of needles used without proper sterilization was as high as 70 per cent.

Understanding Medical Negligence

Medical negligence basically refers to any action on the part of doctors, nurses, or the hospital which shows a negligence of their prescribed duties resulting in harm to the victim.

Daya Shankar Tiwari, in his “Medical Negligence in India: A Critical Study” defines negligence thus: “Negligence is the breach of a duty caused by the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs would do, or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do.

Actionable negligence consists in the neglect of the use of ordinary care or skill towards a person to whom the defendant owes the duty of observing ordinary care and skill, by which neglect the plaintiff has suffered injury to his person or property.

In other words, medical negligence is nothing but breach of duty that a medical professional has towards his patient. The hospital and medical professionals are duty-bound to care for the well-being of their patients. And hence, they should perform only such actions that are beneficial to their patients and abstain from all such actions that may cause harm to the patients.

Further, there is an implicit understanding between the patient and the doctor that the doctor has all the necessary skills and knowledge to treat the patient. Therefore, a breach on any of these counts, which leads to any harm to the patient constitutes medical negligence.

Administration of wrong dosage of medicines, administration of wrong medicines, incorrect diagnosis of the medical condition, negligence in administrating medicine at a proper time, negligence of the bodily needs of the patient, and damage to any part of the patient’s body during surgery due to negligence are some of the examples of actions that can be considered as medical negligence.

It is high time that the medical authorities, government and hospitals take the issue of medical negligence seriously and work towards providing safe and secure treatment to the patients.

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