The West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (WBSCDRC) admitted a case of alleged medical negligence and issued notice against Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital in Kolkata for the wrongful death of a 76-year old patient from Birbhum, a rural part of West Bengal about 170 km from Kolkata. Apart from allegations of negligent therapy, the complaint also alleges that the private hospital refused to provide medical records to the victim’s family following death of the patient on the ground that patient’s family still owes money to the hospital and until full hospital bill is paid, no medical records would be provided to the family. Although the patient-party (of a low socio-economic background) paid almost Rs. 6 lakh rupees for the medical treatment, hospital claims total hospital bill was Rs. 23 lakh and patient’s family must pay another Rs. 17 lakh before medical records would be handed over to the patient party.
Section 1.3.2 of MCI Code of Medical Ethics & Regulations, 2002 has mandated that all doctors and hospitals must provide complete medical records of a patient within 72 hours without any condition. It is nearly impossible to establish a case of “medical negligence” without complete medical records of the patient. The complaint, filed by victim’s sons, has claimed that the “real” reason that the hospital is refusing to hand-over the medical records is to cover up their acts of negligence. PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, who is currently visiting India, appeared to argue on behalf of the victim’s family in this unusual case involving alleged medical negligence. The WBSCDRC issued notice to the hospital after hearing Dr. Saha and fixed next date of hearing on 11th January, 2018 (see Order below). PBT has been helping many victims of medical malpractice in their search for justice as Dr. Saha, who has successfully argued many medico-legal cases including the historic case of his wife, Anuradha Saha’s wrongful death before the Supreme Court of India in 2013, has been frequently coming to India over the past four years to argue cases on behalf of many hapless victims of wrong treatment across the country. Of course, PBT and Dr. Saha fight these legal battles for the victims completely free of cost and if fact, Dr. Saha spends lakhs of rupees of his own money in order to travel to India and appear in court on behalf of countless victims of medical negligence.
WB State Commission Order (July 11, 2017) Tutul Dutta v. Woodlands Hospital
More than two years ago, medical field in West Bengal and across India was rattled with the news that Dr. Nirmal Maji, president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), orchestrated to have hemodialysis of his pet dog done at SSKM Hospital, top super-specialty tertiary care hospital for human patients in Kolkata (see below). The brazenly unscientific idea of using a dialysis machine on a dog that is regularly used for humans is not only reckless and unethical, it may also pose serious threats to the human patients because of possibility of spread of infection and even more dangerously, chance of transmission of a new virus or other microbial diseases of animals (“zoonotic diseases”) to the innocent humans. Although a registered physician from West Bengal, Dr. Maji is also an MLA of the ruling Trinomul-Congress party, top IMA leader from Kolkata and head of the state medical council that has the ultimate duty to protect patients from medical negligence and unethical activities by Bengal doctors.
PBT filed a formal complaint in 2015 with the WBMC against Dr. Maji for his blatantly unethical and dangerous attempt to perform dialysis of his pet dog in a government hospitals for humans. More than two years have passed and media uproar against Dr. Maji have subsided, WBMC has remained absolutely silent and refused to investigate or take any action against their president even though MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 has clearly stipulated that complaints against doctors must be decided within a period of 6 months. Now, PBT has lodged an appeal (under section 8.7 of MCI Codes) with MCI today urging the central medical council to investigate and take immediate disciplinary action against the present WBMC president. Nobody is above the law – we hope that MCI will rise to the occasion and take quick and exemplary disciplinary action against Dr. Maji.
India Today (June 14, 2015) Dog dialysis-Maji
A new PIL (Writ Petition No. 17057W/2017) filed against the recently formed Health Commission (under W.B. Clinical Establishment Act, 2017) was admitted by the Calcutta High Court division bench of chief justice Ms. Nishita Mhatre and Mr. Tapabrata Chakraborty and tagged with a second PIL (W.P. No. 217/2017) that had already been pending on similar grounds. The court directed West Bengal health department and Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee to file their response within 2 week and allowed another 2 weeks to file any rejoinder. The matter will be heard after 4 weeks.
The PIL filed by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha has raised specific questions on violation of Constitution as well as moral authority on part of the state government to select Dr. Mukherjee as senior doctor-member of the powerful Health Commission to judge complaints of medical negligence by private doctors and hospitals in the state. Ironically, as known all over India, the same Dr. Mukherjee was found guilty by the Supreme Court for gross medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha in 2009. The Apex Court also awarded a compensation of Rs. 11.5 crore (including interest), highest in Indian medico-legal history, against Dr. Mukherjee and some other doctors/AMRI hospital in a second historic judgment in 2013. The Supreme Court has also made scathing criticism for professional misconduct against Dr. Mukherjee and dubbed his conduct as “unbecoming of a doctor” and who has brought “great disrespect for the medical profession”. The PIL has claimed that appointment of Dr. Mukherjee to the coveted post as a senior medical member for the Health Commission has undermined sanctity of the Apex Court and it also has violated Article 144 of Indian Constitution that mandates that all authority in India, civil and judicial, must act in aid of Supreme Court.
PBT launched a new branch in Mumbai under supervision of Mrs. Nalini Suchdeb, who is a victim herself and has been fighting a long battle for justice after her mother died from alleged medical negligence in Bombay Hospital. Founded in 2001 by Dr. Kunal Saha following his wife’s untimely death from gross medical negligence by top doctors and AMRI hospital in Kolkata, PBT has played a key role to instill a semblance of accountability for the errant doctors, to eradicate the rampant corruption in the medical regulatory authorities including MCI and state medical councils and to help the innocent victims of medical negligence (see news below).
PBT is not anti-doctors, it is only against the corrupt and negligent doctors. Apart from Dr. Saha, several other honest and prominent Indian doctors who are also involved with battle against medical corruption including Dr. Sunil Pandya, noted neurosurgeon from Mumbai and ex-Editor of Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME), were also present in the inauguration program on July 2, 2017 and called for the urgent need for all compassionate and “good” doctors of India to stand up against the corrupt and unscrupulous medical leaders who have been plundering the medical education and healthcare system in India. All conscientious citizens who want to join hands in our battle against medical corruption and all victims of alleged medical negligence in the Mumbai area who are looking for help in finding medical justice are urged to contact PBT’s new Mumbai coordinator, Mrs. Suchdeb at 9867287911.
Indian Express (July 2, 2017)
PBT will launch a new branch in Mumbai to offer help and guidance to the hapless patients in the Mumbai and surrounding area. For this purpose, an open public seminar will be held at Marathi Patrakar Sangh (next to Mumbai Press Club) at Patrakar Bhavan, Mahapalika Marg, Azad Maidan Fort (next to Mumbai Press Club) on Saturday (July 1) at 5 PM where PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha and many other honest doctors and social activists will also be present. All conscientious doctors, ordinary citizens and victims of “medical negligence” are invited to attend this historic occasion. Admission if free. More information may be obtained from Ms. Nalini Suchde (Tel: 9867287911) who will be PBT’s coordinator for the Mumbai area. Dr. Saha may also be reached directly at his local (Delhi) cell phone at 9958744305 or via email at ANKU@AOL.COM.
In a rare move by the Medical Council of India (MCI), 7 Kolkata-based doctors were found guilty by the highest medical authority in India. MCI has directed the state medical council (WBMC)to take appropriate steps to suspend the negligent doctors’ medical registration for a period of 1 year. Both these victims came to PBT after their loved ones died from alleged medical negligence. PBT helped and guided these victims to lodge an appeal under Section 8.7 of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations, 2002 after WBMC remained silent and refused to investigate complaints against the doctors for more than six months. It may be noted that Section 8.7 (right to appeal to MCI if a state medical council does not investigation within a period of 6 months) was enacted into law in 2004 as a result of a historic PIL filed by PBT in the Supreme Court (W.P. Civil No. 316/2000).
Drs. Ravi Bhardwaj, Prasenjit Sarkar, Debraj Roy, Prasun Halder, Atul Bajpayee and Arindam Sarkar of ILS Hospital in Dumdum, Kolkata were found negligent for causing death of 35-year old Indrajit Roy, a recent PhD graduate and son of Ranjit Roy, a retired bank executive and now an active PBT government body member, died from gross negligence after he suffered a simple fall from the stairs and ruptured a vessel in abdomen. Doctors in this premier hospital simply ignored the serious bleeding internally which eventually led to unfortunate death.
In the other case, an elderly mother of Somenath Chakrobarty, worker in a local factory, was taken to the ESI Hospital in Maniktola, Kolkata after she complained of chest pain but she was returned home with any real treatment and eventually died. Dr. Darpanarayan Datta was found guilty by MCI and his license was also ordered by MCI to be suspended for a period of 1 year (see news below).
Although PBT welcome this new development from MCI, it is unlikely that any of these negligent doctors are likely to stop their practice anytime soon. We have at least 17 doctors whose medical registrations have been suspended by MCI over the last several years as a result of our relentless fight and the new provisions in Section 8.7/8.8, the respective state medical councils have refused to accept MCI’s order in all these cases. The WBMC never even suspended the registration of the most notorious of these cases, i.e. Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee whose license was directed to be canceled by MCI for wrongful death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. A legal battle is still going on in this matter.
TOI (June 10, 2017)
Sanmarg (June 10, 2017)
In a major case of medical negligence with a claim of Rs. 12 crore for wrongful death of a doctor’s husband against Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata, PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha personally appeared on behalf of the victim before the circuit bench of National Consumer Forum (NCDRC) on Tuesday (June 20) and argued against Apollo’s claim that the case should be dismissed summarily because the compensation sought was too excessive. After hearing both parties, a bench of Justices Mr. Ajit Bhariahoke and Mrs. Rekha Gupta rejected hospital’s petition and said that the final quantum of compensation will be decided only after the trial based on evidences.
The advocates for Apollo Hospital also challenged participation of Dr. Saha to represent the complainant/victim on the plea that the complainant already has an advocate and that Dr. Saha is not a licensed attorney. Dr. Saha admitted that he is a medical doctor and not a licensed attorney and that he and his organization’s (PBT) sole purpose is to help the hapless victims of medical negligence find justice. Dr. Saha also submitted that he has appeared and argued many other victims of medical negligence before the district, state and national consumer courts as well as in the Supreme Court of India but he or PBT has been helping victims all over India without ever taking a rupee from anybody. Dr. Saha further submitted that in fact he has been spending lakhs of rupees of his own money in order to help these victims that include expenses for his travel (from his country of residence in USA), hotel and food etc. This case involves death of a retired engineer, Mr. Asok Das, husband of Dr. Kalyani Das Sarkar, who died at the Apollo Hospital following a simple investigation to test his heart (cardio angiogram) as a result of a botched up procedure. The case will be heard on merit next on 13th November, 2017. Dr. Saha has come to India earlier this month only to help several victims of alleged medical negligence in their court cases pending before the consumer courts in different states (see news below).
Statesman (June 21, 2017)
Bartaman (June 21, 2017)
PBT held an open public seminar on Rogi Divas (“Patients’ Day”) this week where an urgent memorandum was sent to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) president urging him to form a fast-track court for quick disposal of cases involving alleged medical negligence by doctors and hospitals (see news reports below). While acknowledging that the consumer courts have brought a ray of hope for the hapless victims of medical negligence in India under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), PBT has stressed that inordinate delays extending to several years and decades in disposal of complaints against the errant doctors/hospitals have brought a great deal of frustration for the victims of medical negligence. PBT has requested the NCDRC president to establish separate fast-track courts for handling only cases involving medical negligence for expedited disposal rather than, as is the norm today, all consumer complaints, much of which involves ordinary commercial disputes, are tagged together with cases of medical malpractice that truly involves vital question of life and death for the ordinary people.
Zee News (May 28, 2017)
Pioneer (June 1, 2017)Daily News World (May 28, 2017)
PBT calls all conscientious citizens and victims of “medical negligence” across India to observe Rogi Divas (Patients’ Day) on Sunday (May 28). Patients’ Day is to spread better awareness about medical and legal rights of all patients and to establish a timely justice delivery system for all victims of alleged “medical negligence”. While MCI Code of Medical Ethics and Regulations and Consumer Protection Act (CPA) have provided legal as well as medical regulatory power for protection of the defenseless patients from careless or negligent treatment by doctors and hospitals, it is a common knowledge today that medical councils, that are in charge of taking disciplinary action against errant doctors, primarily function to shield their delinquent medical colleagues without any concern for the hapless patients. Even the Consumer Courts in India have failed to deliver timely justice as cases against the wealthy and influential doctors/hospitals languish in the court for years and decades.
To celebrate Rogi Divas, PBT will hold an open public seminar at 4 pm on Sunday (May 28) at Calcutta Press Club (near Maidan, Kolkata) where all conscientious citizens and victims of “medical negligence” are invited to attend and raise their voices demanding medical justice for all. You can contact 9831983670 or 9143650171 for more information about this public seminar.
All members of the Medical Council of India (MCI) unanimously passed a motion during their last General Body (GB) meeting (just posted on MCI website) specifically to congratulate the disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai who is still free on bail waiting for his criminal trial on charges bribery and corruption after he was arrested by the CBI in 2010. As can be seen on page 7 of the minutes of this GB meeting:
“Dr.Ved Prakash Mishra moved an informal congratulatory resolution on the achievement of the highest position of World Medical Association by Former President of Medical Council of India, Dr.Ketan Desai and the whole house seconded and extended their committed heartfelt congratulations to Dr.Desai. A congratulatory letter be sent to Dr.Desai on behalf of MCI in this regard.”
While the entire country and even the international medical community are well aware about the corrupt nature of Dr. Ketan Desai, as recently held in an editorial published in the prestigious international “British Medical Journal” (BMJ), there can be little doubt that the doctor-leaders who are running the healthcare and medical education system in MCI are nothing but cronies of this disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai. Unfortunately, the ultimate price of this wide-spread medical corruption will be paid by the defenseless patients across India.
Leaders of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have frequently claimed that lack of adequate infrastructure and too much workload in Indian hospitals and nursing homes are responsible for doctors committing more mistakes and medical malpractice. Top international medical journal, British Medical Journal (BMJ), has categorically undermined any such notions as BMJ in a report published this week has reported that according to the medico-legal experts, law would not accept any view that a lack of adequate resources or excessive workload in hospitals as a defense in cases involving gross medical negligence (“Workload pressure no defense against clinical negligence, barrister warns” by Abi Rimmer, BMJ 2017: 357, j2103). The BMJ report has advised that the argument that UK government’s healthcare system (NHS) has not allocated enough financial resources for running government hospitals cannot provide any shield for doctors who are facing charges of criminal negligence causing death of a patient. While a number of doctors in UK have been jailed after conviction for criminal negligence (“manslaughter”) causing death of a patient through reckless treatment, in history of Indian medicine, not a single bona fide allopathic physician has ever been convicted for criminal negligence under Section 304A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) that carries a maximum jail sentence of 2 years, fine or both. Even in the most well-known medical negligence case for death of Anuradha Saha, although three senior doctors (Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Dr. Baidyanath Halder and Dr. Abani Roychowdhury) were convicted under IPC 304A and sentenced for 3 months jail by the trial court, their conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court on the ground of “cumulative negligence” (suggesting that some other junior doctors, who were not charged criminally, also contributed, albeit to a minimal level, to Anuradha’s eventual death).
In an unprecedented move exposing the deep-rooted corruption inside the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Indian Medical Association (IMA) that seemingly worked together to put Dr. Ketan Desai, perhaps the most notorious and corrupt doctor in Indian medical history, to the coveted post of president of World Medical Association (WMA), an unprecedented editorial published last week in the world-renowned “British Medical Journal” (BMJ) has called to remove Dr. Desai from WMA and asked for a complete overhaul of the world medical body (see BMJ editorial attached). PBT and other well-minded medical groups across the globe have long been fighting the reinstatement of disgraced Dr. Desai to the post of WMA president ever since a group of senior IMA leaders presented a blatantly false claim before the WMA that all charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian government. But despite strong objection raised immediately by PBT that this was an absolutely false claim by IMA because the main CBI “trap” case against Dr. Desai for alleged bribery and corruption is waiting at the Patiala House Court in Delhi for criminal trial to begin. But WMA kept blind eyes to the objections by PBT and other medical groups and made Dr. Desai as their president last year anyway underscoring that medical corruption has probably reached far beyond the shores of India. The scathing editorial published in BMJ provides further corroboration to this notion that medical leaders in MCI/IMA are hands in gloves with some devious members of the world medical body who are trying desperately to restore the grossly tarnished image of criminally-indicted Dr. Ketan Desai.
BMJ Editorial (April, 2017)
Disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, was caught red-handed by the CBI on 22nd April, 2010 for taking a huge bribe from a private medical college allegedly in exchange of granting MCI recognition to admit MBBS students. Seven years later, criminal trial against Dr. Desai is still delayed on one ground or another as Desai roams free on bail. During this long delay in the justice delivery system, Desai also managed to recapture the coveted post of World Medical Association (WMA) president (with help from his unprincipled medical cronies in MCI/IMA) by virtue of which, the biggest medical mafia in Indian medicine attends conferences and delivers lectures on medical ethics and good medical practice. This is the irony for the “good” doctors and millions of hapless patients of India.
When the criminal case against Desai came up for hearing last month before the CBI court in Patiala House in Delhi, one of the co-accused in the same corruption case, Mr. J.P. Singh (who was allegedly involved as a conduit for bribing Dr. Desai) was allowed to travel to USA/UK on a personal ground and as such, the case was adjourned again to 25th May, 2017. The long and sordid saga of Dr. Ketan Desai and deep-rooted corruption in the MCI and IMA has not only damaged credibility of the entire medical community in India, it has also caused further erosion in public trust on doctors. We hope that the CBI will work harder to bring justice to all the corrupt individuals including Dr. Desai who are responsible for the present abysmal condition of medical education and healthcare delivery system in India.
Lately, Indian Medical Association (IMA), largest doctors’ club and other doctors’ groups across India have started strong movements by crippling hospital services through “doctors’ strike” to protest against physical assaults on doctors and hospital services causing endless pain and suffering for countless innocent patients. The powerful medical lobbies have also exerted pressure on state and central governments to implement new criminal laws seeking non-bailable warrants and up to 14 years of imprisonment for any relatives/friends of the alleged victim of “medical negligence” accused of any attacks on doctor and hospital vandalism. Some states like West Bengal have already enacted such draconian laws only to protect members of the medical profession.
PBT has never condoned any form of physical violence against doctors and hospitals. We also want that government must be able to provide adequate protection against physical attacks against any citizen and members of all profession including doctors. The Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) already have several legal provisions for criminal prosecution against physical violence and destruction of property. In addition, civil laws also provide added protection against any loss due to physical destruction of life and property. What is the justification to make new laws only for protection of our healers? Under Section 304A of CrPC, when a doctor is found guilty for causing death of a patient due to gross medical negligence, the maximum punishment is imprisonment for up to 2 years – ironically, no doctor has ever been sentenced to jail for 2 years in Indian medical history.
Now IMA wants new criminal law to put a deeply aggrieved and otherwise peaceful family member of an alleged victim of medical negligence in jail for 14 years even if he makes a minimal threat after witnessing his loved one dying from reckless treatment and losing mental momentary control. Doctors in India also need to think why incidence of doctor bashing or hospital vandalism is simply unimaginable in developed countries like USA and UK. It is because people in USA/UK have trust on their medical regulatory system as medical councils in the West routinely held many doctors guilty for medical negligence and take stringent disciplinary action by canceling their medical registration. In sharp contrast, Medical Council of India (MCI) and state medical councils in India are riddled with corruption that function only shield their errant medical colleagues without caring for the lives of the defenseless patients as virtually no doctor is found guilty by the doctor-only members of the medical councils in India. A repot written by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, on this burning issue is published in this week’s British Medical Journal (BMD) (see below)
BMJ (Mar 30, 2017) doctor attacks
In a desperate attempt to suppress information about Ethics Committee investigation of complaints of medical negligence and status of investigation of complaint against disgraced Dr. Ketan Desai, Medical Council of India (MCI) moved a frivolous writ petition in Delhi High Court challenging the recent order passed by Central Information Commission (CIC) directing MCI to provide PBT all information in regard to Ethics Committee investigation of complaints against doctors and long-standing investigation of Dr. Desai whose license was suspended by the MCI in 2010. The CIC passed this order on February 2, 2017 directing MCI to provide the requested information within 3 weeks after MCI refused to provide any information after PBT filed an application under RTI Act, 2005 seeking the relevant information for public interest. Instead of coming clean in a transparent manner to disclose the information as directed by the CIC, MCI obtained an ex perte stay from Delhi High Court on the ground that Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president, is a USA citizen and as such, has no right to obtain information under RTI Act, 2005.
Ironically, the RTI application seeking information from MCI was not filed by Dr. Saha, but by PBT vide an RIT application signed on behalf of PBT by Mr. Ranjit Sarkar, a PBT governing body member and resident of Kolkata. Dr. Saha only appeared and argued the case before CIC during the final hearing of this matter in January, 2017. Thus, MCI has willfully misguided the court to obtain this stay order in order to avoid disclosure of their continued support for the disgraced ex-MCI head, Dr. Ketan Desai and also to suppress the botched investigation of numerous complaints of “medical negligence” by MCI Ethics Committee where hardly any doctor is found guilty. In any event, in a similar case (refusals to provide information under RTI Act by West Bengal Medical Council to Dr. Kunal Saha on his citizenship status, Supreme Court categorically held in 2007 that Dr. Saha has right to obtain RTI information as an overseas citizen of India). PBT will move against this vengeful act by the highest medical regulatory body and demand exemplary punishment against MCI.