Five years ago, Shreya Nimarkar (43), underwent hysterectomy at a private suburban hospital when doctors accidentally damaged her ureter. The urine leaked inside her own body damaging both her kidneys. What followed was a painful nine-hour surgery of intestine reduction to prevent further spread of infection. In the last three years, she has approached the Maharashtra Medical Council, filed a complaint with the consumer court and approached local police authorities.
“There has been no redressal. The hospital continues to run, its doctors probably duping other patients,” remarks Nimarkar.
She will now present her case before a public platform in her final chance to seek redressal in November.
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Bringing the medical grievance system to a wider public platform, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), along with NGO Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) will for the first time hear complaints of patients publicly against both public and private hospitals. Such a public hearing was earlier conducted in 2004, but only against public healthcare professionals.
This time, the NHRC will invite state health secretaries, Directors of Health Services, medical education ministry, national medical councils, municipal corporations, consumer protection councils, and officials from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to respond to the complaints put up by patients.
“Any violation in healthcare can be presented in this two-day hearing. We will also bring charitable hospitals, civic-run hospitals, clinical trials under the scanner,” said Dr Abhijeet More, co-convener of JSA.
The monthly public hearings will be first held at Mumbai based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in November, then at Chennai, Raipur, Guwahati, Lucknow and Chandigarh.
Noor Jahan, attached with Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, said that she will present collective cases of Muslim women who have been denied medical care in public hospitals.
“Muslim clusters have fewer public health centers. These women are not given proper care during deliveries,” said Jahan.
Another union of labourers will be approaching the NHRC’s hearing to demand better medical facilities under Employee State Insurance Scheme (ESIS). “The ESIC hospitals are understaffed. There is no testing equipment in the hospitals. As a result, these labourers have to visit private hospitals and spend from their own pockets,” said N Vasudevan, president of New Trade Union Initiative.
With the first public hearing, the NHRC will identify gaps in the private and public healthcare system after hearing all cases. It will formulate guidelines and issue instructions to medical councils and government bodies.
“We will also demand a patient redressal system like the one in Jharkhand,” said More.