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MLA Azo suggests enactment of Medical Negligence Act

Nagaland News

Minister Pangnyu Phom says not required

KOHIMA, SEPTEMBER 21: Expressing concern on cases of medical negligence leading to casualties, MLA Kuzholuzo (Azo) Nienu today stressed on the need for enactment of Medical Negligence Act but it was rejected by Minister S Pangnyu Phom in the Assembly today.
Initiating discussion on matters of urgent public importance pertaining to “Medical Negligence”, Leader of NPF Legislature Party and Co-chairman of UDA Government said negligence is culpable (punishable) carelessness-conduct which involves an unreasonably great risk of causing harm to another.
On the other hand, he explained that medical negligence is an act or omission by a health care provider which deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and which causes injury to the patient.
The most common types of Medical Negligence which may be considered as universal as follows: Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose; Surgical Error, wrong site surgery, unintentional laceration or perforation, unnecessary surgery, negligent anaesthesia preparation; Childbirth injuries; failure to treat, failure to provide the necessary care and attention; drug prescription errors.
Apart from these types of Medical Negligence, in recent years the Health Care Industry has become to be regarded as a profiteering business, he said, adding that many private hospitals have sprung up without adhering to infrastructural specifications and safety norms which may be termed as Infrastructural Negligence.
Government and Private Hospitals in the State operate without the required Medical equipment, which have greatly hampered the health care delivery system and have compelled many patients to seek treatment outside the State, he said.
Lamenting that the HFW Department has messed up in the postings of Medical Doctors, Azo, without naming cited that a doctor specialized in Anaesthesia has been posted to a Hospital where there is no Surgeon posted.
Most of the Government Doctors are also practicing privately and there have been numerous complaints by the patients that they are given preferential treatments and more care in these private practices, he said.
Doctors have to realise that they are duty bound to look and treat their patients very carefully as they are being paid whether it be in Private or Government hospitals, they are not doing any charitable work, said Azo.
Azo also cited that recently Minister YM Yollow had suffered serious health problem when he was given treatment for lung disease at a hospital in Nagaland but after being taken out of the State he was treated for heart disease and has returned healthy.
In this, Azo said there is a pressing need to pass the Medical Negligence Act in Nagaland considering the fact that it attained statehood in 1963 and Negligence and Malpractices have been noticeable ever since the establishment of Health Care Facilities in the State.
Minister for Forest, Environment and Climate Change, YM Yollow participating in the discussion testified that he was treated for 3-days in Nagaland and had almost died but flown to a hospital in Delhi with the help of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio he was declared to be stable within 30 minutes.
Nonetheless, there will be many patients, who will not be able to go to Delhi like me, he said.
He also lamented that the Naga doctors after completing MBBS come back and start working under the Government but once posted outside Kohima and Dimapur they usually take study leave for specialist and super specialist courses.
But after completing studies they start their own private hospitals, he lamented. He also pointed out that the Government spends crores of rupees to pay doctors for non-practicing allowances but still they continue private practice.
Nevertheless, Yollow suggested increasing the age of retirement of doctors citing the low number of qualified medical practitioners in the State.
MLA Dr. Ngangshi K Ao expressed in brief their concerns on Medical Negligence and highlighted some of the reforms and measures required to be taken in order to ensure quality medical facilities to the citizens of the State.
Advisor for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Dr Neikiesalie Kire said that a Public Health Diploma is necessary for doctors, who are transferred to the Directorate. He also said that all doctors should continue to participate in Continuing Medical Education as it is important for health care providers to prosper by learning and improving effectively.
Dr Kire was also in support of superannuation age for doctors.
Advisor for Law and Justice, Dr. Chumben Murry defined medical negligence as improper or unskilled treatment of a patient by a medical practitioner, who can be a physician, surgeon, nurse, pharmacist or any other medical practitioner.
He said that there are an increasing number of litigations of medical negligence and this may be partly due to increasing awareness among health care recipients.
He said that there should be more effort placed on awareness of legal avenues and also of doctor-patient relationship to enable more rational approach towards problems such as violence against doctors. There is a need to strengthen rules and regulations of the medical council and also strengthen penal laws dealing with medical negligence, said Murry.
Responding to the discussions, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, S Pangnyu Phom said more and more people are depending on the modern system of medicine rather than on traditional systems, especially in case of serious ailments which require surgical intervention.
Even in the case of delivery of new born, the programmes implemented nationally as well as in the State focus on regular check-ups by a trained medical person and delivery in hospitals under the care of a trained person, he said.
He cited that during the extreme outbreak of the COVID pandemic last year, the hospital beds had filled up rapidly and the Department had to ramp the number of hospital beds as well as other infrastructure including equipment.
The doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners who were involved in COVID management, had put in a huge amount of good work done during the period which is praiseworthy, he said.
“At the same time, there was also concern expressed at some incidents of neglect. Since these were unprecedented times, we have taken such incidents in our stride”, he said.
Medicine is a noble profession, and the doctors regulate their conduct though a Code of Ethics enforced by their self-regulatory body, he said adding that in Nagaland, the Nagaland Medical Council regulates the medical conduct of its members.
On receipt of complaints against its members from the public, including patients and their relatives, is expected to conduct enquiries on these and depending on the seriousness of the complaints, the Council has the power to reprimand a practitioner, or suspend or remove his name from its register, he said.
He also highlighted that there are other legal options also available to aggrieved patients, which include: i) filing a case for civil negligence where he can seek for compensation for the injury caused due to the negligence; ii) filing a case for criminal negligence where the doctor shows a gross absence of skill or care, or an illegal act; or iii) filing a case for damages as a consumer of services under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Doctors go through rigorous education, which includes internship where they get hands-on training, he said adding that they are expected, therefore, to have the required skills and reasonable competence in their area of specialisation.
It is not expected that they should have the highest level of standards but a minimum level should be ensured, he said.
Some of the things that can be expected from a doctor while treating patients would include that he does not fail in his diagnosis, or prescribe wrong medication, or perform incorrectly or unnecessary surgeries on the patients, he said.
“Patient’s safety should be the cornerstone of the standard operating procedures, protocols and processes that are put in place within a hospital. These should also be ensured by the Department along with the Nagaland Medical Council and other stakeholders.”
Expressing that Naga people are “very understanding, still innocent and sometimes do not value their lives as much as they should”, Phom said while it would not be the objective of the Government and the society to increase frivolous cases, it would be important to increase awareness on patient’s rights, informed consent and medical records for the doctors as well as general public.
In this, he asserted that the HFW Department would actively work on it and declared that “there is no requirement, however, for any further legislation on the subject of medical negligence”.
(Page News Service)