The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctors’ panel shifts neglect onus

New Delhi, Nov. 14: The Medical Council of India today washed its hands of complaints of negligence against doctors, saying it was for the state medical councils to deal with them.

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the MCI also said it had decided on a “four to six-week” time limit for referring complaints to the respective state councils.

On September 27, the court had asked if there was any procedure to disqualify errant doctors and sent a list of questions to the MCI. It had sought a reply on affidavit within two weeks, but the MCI appealed for more time.

To the question whether there was a time limit for the MCI to refer complaints to state councils, the council admitted it had “omitted” to include one. But “after deliberations”, a time limit of four to six weeks “has been decided”.

This “time limit” for MCI will apply only when the complainant gives details such as the name of the errant doctor’s father, the registration number and the name of the registering authority. For most patients, such information would not be easy to come by.

Asked by the court whether any procedure exists for cancellation of registration of errant doctors, the MCI said the “ethical committee” has proposed a course to de-list a medical practitioner. It, however, gave no details.

To a query whether the MCI allows direct registration of doctors not registered with any state council, it replied in the affirmative but did not say how action can be taken against them.

On what the MCI can do if a state medical council does not comply with the Medical Council Act, the affidavit said it “has powers” to “take up the matter with the state government”.

To a query about steps taken on pending complaints at MCI, the affidavit said they had been referred to state councils wherever “details” of the respective council were available. The affidavit made it clear that it was up to the state medical councils to initiate action.

The apex court had taken up the case on the basis of a public interest plea filed by Moloy Ganguly, brother-in-law of NRI doctor Kunal Saha whose wife Anuradha died after treatment in a Calcutta hospital.

The West Bengal medical council has not filed any affidavit in the case so far, but might be compelled to do so once hearing resumes tomorrow.

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