The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flak forum on medical neglect
- Legal setbacks on agenda

Grievances will be aired and accusations hurled, points will be raised and counterpoints provided as hundreds from several walks of life — including the more prominent victims of “medical negligence” in the recent past and doctors — come together for a no-holds-barred meet later this month.

Organised by the People for Better Treatment (PBT) — founded by Kunal Saha, whose “battle for justice” following wife Anuradha’s death in 1998 set the doctor vs patient ball rolling down the court corridors — the August 31 convention is being billed as “the first and the biggest” of its kind in the city and, possibly, the country.

Though more than 1,500 people are likely to be present, the spotlight will firmly be on Manoj Patel, who lost 17-year-old son Rajnis to the vagaries of SSKM Hospital. The budding cricketer underwent five surgeries following a shin injury, before succumbing to ‘medical neglect’. “This single case has brought to the forefront the issue of criminal negligence of the government healthcare system,” said PBT spokesperson Malay Ganguly.

“I am going to be there,” Patel told Metro. “If I, through my misfortune, can be of some help to others who have suffered a similar ordeal, I will feel that my son’s death has not gone in vain.”

PBT founder Kunal Saha made it clear that this convention would provide a common platform for the aggrieved. “Every person, who feels he can contribute to our fight in some way, can come and speak,” he said, admitting that only constraints of space prevented the organisation from inviting more people.“We are even inviting doctors to our meet,” disclosed Saha, adding that many were “volunteering” to help patients in their fight against the black sheep within the medical community.

While the organisation is enthused with the response generated, it is worried by the lack of success the battle against cases of “medical negligence” is finding in court.

“The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has given its verdict on 26 cases of medical negligence between January and July this year,” Consumers’ Unity and Guidance Forum working president Prabir Basu said. “Only two ended in doctors being found guilty of neglect.”

The PBT is well aware of this medico-legal trend. “One of the most important items on our agenda in the convention is this aspect of our fight,” said Ganguly. “The meeting will discuss the probable cause of these legal setbacks, as also the Supreme Court directive asking us to provide suggestions on correcting the balance, as far as the cases lodged with the various medical concerns are concerned.”

The PBT, he said, had already decided on one recommendation — incorporation of non-medical individuals in bodies like the West Bengal Medical Council or the Medical Council of India. “People also have to be more careful when they are approaching the legal system for redress,” said Ganguly.

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