Supreme Courts award of a Rs 5.96 crore compensation to Dr Kunal Saha for the death of his wife Dr Anuradha Saha due to medical negligence drew muted reactions with most top private hospitals and even the Indian Medical Association and the Medical Council of India withholding comments citing lack of direct knowledge of the case. The unprecedented amount though elicited some off-record murmurs about it being too high by Indian standards.
The court,in its 210-page verdict,termed the order as a deterrent and a reminder to those doctors,hospitals,nursing homes and others who do not take their responsibility seriously.
Experts working in the health sector,however,say the fact that the case was filed under consumer protection laws and a neglected patient is not just another consumer at par with an aggrieved flat owner fighting for promised floor area,it may be time for India to look at a specific law to tackle medical negligence.
Former director general health services Dr R K Srivastava,who is currently chairman of MCIs board of governors,said he cannot comment on the SC judgment because he is yet to see it,while IMA secretary Dr D R Rai too declined to comment.
Health sector insiders say the 25 years that it took for the case to come to a closure may finally turn light on the professions best kept secret. Most fora set up to redress medical negligence grievances work as cliques protecting doctors rather than patients interests.