The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), highest consumer court in India, passed a historic judgment granting an award of Rs. 1.1 crore (Rs. 1 crore compensation plus Rs. 10 lakh as “punitive damage”) against the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi for wrongful delivery of a child causing permanent damage in his brain in a botched up medical procedure in 1999 (see the entire judgment below). This historic compensation was allowed on the basis of Anuradha Saha decision by the Supreme Court in 2013 in which the Apex Court awarded a total of more than Rs. 11.5 crore as compensation and held that compensation involving “medical negligence” cannot be calculated using the straight-jacket formula of “multiplier” method that had been the norm until then. Apart from Anuradha Saha’s case, this is the second highest compensation in Indian medical history against a top hospital like Apollo. Following the principles set in Anuradha Saha case, NCDRC has directed Apollo Hospital to pay Rs. 80 lakh and the main accused doctor, Dr. Sohini Verma, to pay Rs. 20 lakh. The “punitive” or exemplary damage of Rs. 10 lakh is also significant in context of Indian medical practice because “punitive” damages are awarded (mostly in Western countries) against an act of social significance and thus, all future cases of “medical negligence” where the doctor/hospital is found guilty, “punitive” damages should be awarded by the state and district consumer forums. This historic judgment by the National Consumer Forum will undoubtedly bring a ray of hope for the thousands of hapless victims of medical negligence who have been waiting for their day of justice. It will also send a strong signal to the negligent doctors and hospitals in India.
PBT reported few days ago the atrocity of many negligent and unethical doctors whose license to practice medicine were suspended by the Medical Council of India (MCI) continue to practice anyway because the state medical councils (SMCs) whose duty is to act on MCI’s order to actually cancel medical registration of an errant doctor simply ignore MCI’s direction to allow the guilty doctor practice without any problem. The Times of India (TOI) has carried a report today (April 11) on this topic entitled, “MCI fails to rein in errant doctors” (see below). As reported by TOI, they also contacted MCI president, Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, to seek a response to PBT’s allegations that MCI’s orders are deliberated flouted by the SMCs and the guilty doctors continuing practice despite their licenses suspended by the MCI. But Dr. Mehta did not provide any answer to TOI’s queries. We wonder why MCI’s top leader is silent on this important issue? Are MCI and SMCs in the same boat whose sole goal is to somehow shield their errant and corrupt medical colleagues? Will our new health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, wake up to investigate these corrupt practices by the medical councils for the sake of the hapless patients of India?
In a scathing judgment delivered yesterday, Central Information Commission (CIC), highest authority for enforcement of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, has directed Fortis Hospital in Delhi to provide the entire medical records to an advocate whose father died from alleged medical negligence (see the entire CIC judgment below). The son claimed that negligence and maltreatment by the hospital caused his father’s death and sought the medical records from the Fortis Hospital to establish his case but the hospital denied his request (under RTI Act) on the plea that the requested information was “private, confidential and privileged”. Rejecting the claim by the Fortis Hospital, CIC has held that malpractice by private hospitals “amounting to medical terrorism”. The CIC has ended this remarkable judgment by calling that the government, MCI and other regulatory authorities have to see that “license to practice medicine will not become license to kill and extort and come to the rescue of the helpless patients”.
It is learned from reliable sources that Medical Council of India (MCI) is all set to reinstate disgraced ex-MCI supremo Dr. Ketan Desai as a regular member of MCI. Dr. Desai is presently free on bail facing serious criminal charges for bribery and corruption. More importantly, Dr. Desai medical registration to practice medicine or be part of any medical council has remained suspended since 2010 after PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, lodged a formal complaint against Desai for violation of MCI Code of Ethics & Regulations. Despite these indisputable evidences against the most notorious doctor in India, Dr. Desai managed to get himself nominated as MCI member from Gujarat University. Almost all top leaders of the present MCI are well-known cronies of Dr. Desai. Supreme Court of India issued notice against MCI and Desai last November after PBT filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking CBI investigation of the last MCI election which was allegedly rigged by Desai and his cronies. Unfortunately, despite a grossly tainted public image, Desai has strong backing from BJP, Congress and other major political parties except AAP. In order to stop Desai from being MCI member, PBT has sent a memorandum to MCI president, Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, urging her not to allow Desai in MCI as this would send a strong negative signal to the honest doctors and ordinary people of India. PBT has also stated that they will move the court if Desai manages to become a member of MCI.
Major international media groups across Europe and USA have focused in the recent time on the pervasive healthcare corruption in India. Times of India (TOI) today has carried a report entitled, “Healthcare corruption in India hits international headlines” summarizing the stories on Indian medical corruption around the globe (see TOI news below). While top international medical journal, “British Medical Journal” (BMJ), have been reporting on corruption in Indian medicine over the past several months, the latest revelation about the pitiful status of Indian medicine was made in an eye-catching story last week by National Public Radio (NPR) focusing on the legendary fight against medical negligence and healthcare corruption by PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha.
Sitting on top of all corruption episodes inside Indian healthcare system is the sordid tale of disgraced, ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai. Caught red-handed by CBI while taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010, Dr. Desai is still running Indian medical education and regulatory system sitting behind the curtain. While free on bail waiting for trial in several criminal cases facing serious charges for bribery and corruption, top leaders in MCI and Indian Medical Association (IMA) have been acting brazenly to restore Desai’s tainted public image. Last December, Desai was given the highest honor by IMA as he inaugurated their national medical conference in Ahmedabad with the newly appointed health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, sitting next to him. Doctors and Desai supporters like Dr. Ajay Kumar and Dr. Vinay Aggarwal with dubious background continue to occupy highest posts in MCI and IMA despite scathing findings of “unethical” behavior by the central vigilance officer (CVO). Instead of taking cognizance of CVO reports and taking appropriate disciplinary action against the delinquent MCI/IMA leaders, the CVOs were harassed and removed from MCI. Many patients from foreign countries come to India every year seeking cheaper treatment making “medical tourism” a booming business for the country. But the rot in Indian medical system has now started to show up in the foreign countries. BJP government came to power on the promise to fight “corruption”. But until now, there is absolutely no sign that Modi-government’s anti-corruption promise even made any attempt to fix the rot in medicine. The BJP government can no longer continue to look away at the pervasive healthcare corruption. If they do, it will only be at their own peril.
British Medical Journal (BMJ) has reported that according to records obtained from National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), highest government body for regulation of HIV/AIDS, almost 9,000 people have contracted HIV through contaminated blood transfusion over the past five years across India (see BMJ report below). PBT president and noted HIV/AIDS specialist, Dr. Kunal Saha was hired by the World Bank in 2007 by World Bank as part of a team that visited hospitals and blood banks in India to investigate allegations of sub-standard kits approved by NACO and used by blood banks across India for detection of HIV in donated blood. The report of World Bank investigation found evidence of rampant corruption with purchase and supply of spurious HIV test kits used by hospitals and blood banks. A criminal case against Monozyme, manufacturer of sub-standard test kits, is still languishing in Kolkata since 2006. PBT also lodged a public interest litigation (PIL) against NACO for supply of sub-standard test kits posing danger to innocent patients. Despite enormous public uproar, neither World Bank nor Indian authority took any concrete steps to prevent the horrific travesty of HIV transmission through tainted blood. The report published in BMJ shows glaring flaws and corruption that are still continuing in blood banks across India. On the wake of this enormous human tragedy, PBT has written to World Bank president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, seeking his immediate intervention and urging him to stop funding NACO until they assure safe blood supply in all blood banks in India. PBT has also sought adequate compensation for all victims and/or their families who have contracted HIV/AIDS through contaminated blood transfusion. PBT has also demanded that NACO must accept responsibility and publicly declare the names of the almost 9,000 patients who have fallen victims to this colossal medical calamity. Unless Indian government takes immediate and exemplary measures to solve this problem, nobody in India can feel safe if they need transfusion of blood for any medical reason.
The highly popular national public radio (NPR) in USA has published a comprehensive story today on PBT and life of its founding-president, Dr. Kunal Saha. The story also underscored a recent article in British Medical Journal (BMJ) highlighting the wide-spread medical corruption and dearth of “whistle-blowers” against the botched healthcare system in India. While the NPR story provides a personal touch with the lives of Dr. Saha and his wife (Anuradha Saha) who died in the most tragic way falling victim to gross medical negligence during a social visit to India in 1998, the article also brings attention to the rapidly changing healthcare delivery system and rising hope for justice for the countless victims of medical negligence in India. Copy of the whole story is attached below and it can also be viewed at NRP website at http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/07/390696759/having-loved-and-lost-one-man-takes-on-medical-malpractice-in-india.
The abysmal status of healthcare in the state of West Bengal came to limelight as several deaths including children were reported as a result of private hospitals refusing to admit patients infected with the swine flu virus. The situation in state-run government hospitals under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, who is holding the posts of both health minister and chief minister, is equally pitiful as government hospitals are struggling to privide adequate beds or medicines to treat swine flu virus. PBT has submitted a memorandum to Mamata Banerjee demanding investigation and exemplary action against the hospitals that have refused to treat patients with swine flu virus infection. PBT has also demanded that all families of victims who have died from swine flu infection due to refusal of treatment or wrong treatment be compensated Rs. 10 lakh by the Bengal government. PBT may move public interest litigation unless government takes appropriate action with the swine flu crisis in West Bengal (see news below).
Allabahad High Court (Lucknow bench) has delivered a judgment last week rejecting the plea of ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, who sought dismissal of the criminal charges against him filed by CBI under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 120-B (“criminal conspiracy”) and Section 420 (“cheating”). This case for corruption against Desai originated from his role in granting MCI recognition to Sri Ram Murti Smarak Institute of Medical Sciences, Bareilly, U.P when Desai was still sitting MCI president. However, Lucknow HC has set aside only the charge against Desai filed under Section 13 (“criminal misconduct by a public servant”) of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act. Desai had moved these revision petitions before Lucknow HC seeking to quash all charges against him. The Lucknow HC has categorically held:
“So far as the order of framing of charges under Sections 120-B, 420 IPC against Dr. Ketan Desai is concerned, the same need no interference at this state.”
Thus, the long-awaited criminal trial of Ketan Desai for his alleged offense under Indian Penal Cole (IPC) Section 120-B (“criminal conspiracy”) and Section 420 (“cheating”), which may carry jail sentence for up to 7 years, is expected to start in Lucknow soon. Desai will also have to stand a separate criminal trial in Delhi for alleged corruption and bribery for which he was arrested by CBI in 2010. Desai has already been charge-sheeted in this case which should start in Delhi Patiala court soon.
Shockingly, a major Indian newspaper, Times of India (TOI), twisted the Lucknow HC judgment in order to paint a positive picture for Desai as they have reported in Suaday’s (Feb. 22) paper with an eye-catching caption, “Medical seats: HC acquits Desai of graft charges” (see below). A plain reading of the entire HC judgment (copy attached) will show that nowhere in the entire judgment that the Lucknow HC has “acquitted” Desai of the pending charges of bribery and corruption as reported in TOI. The HC has merely said that the charges against Desai as a “public servant” (under Section 13 of PC Act) should be removed. This glaring misinformation perpetrated by a major newspaper clearly demonstrates that Desai has profound influence not only on the major political parties including BJP and Congress (whose top leaders publicly attended Desai’s daughter’s marriage in Ahmedabad recently), but he also has a firm grip over major media houses in India who are twisting news in order to restore his badly dented public image.
Top leaders of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and MCI are well-known for their staunch support of Desai. As we reported recently, many IMA/MCI leaders including IMA secretary-general, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, and MCI “grievance committee” chairman, Dr. Ajay Kumar, approached World Medical Association (WMA) last year and made a blatantly false claim that all criminal charges against Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. And based on this false claim by IMA/MCI leaders, WMA also reinstated Desai as their president-elect for 2016. Since then, Desai cronies in IMA/MCI have been touting for Desai based on his fraudulently obtained accolade of WMA president-elect. Even the chief vigilance officer (CVO) of MCI found the claim by Dr. Kumar/Dr. Aggarwal false and “unethical” as the CVO recommended the central health ministry to take disciplinary action against Dr. Kumar and Dr. Aggarwal. But the health ministry is also keeping deaf ears to CVO’s recommendation and refused to act against Desai or his cronies. The Lucknow HC judgment provides further proof that Desai is prima facie guilty for corruption as he faces at least two criminal trials.
PBT has already written to WMA and Indian health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, urging them to take appropriate action against Desai and his cronies and to take necessary steps to remove Desai from the post of WMA president-elect. So far, no response received from WMA, MCI/IMA or health ministry. Will the BJP government open their eyes and act to save the crumbling healthcare delivery system and medical education in India?
PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha has written to Dr. Nata Menabde, World Health Organizstion (WHO) representative to India, to look into the alleged corruption in the recent reinstatement of tainted ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, as WMA president-elect for 2016 (see Dr. Saha’s letter below). Serious allegations were surfaced recently after Dr. Desai was surreptitiously re-appointed as WMA president-elect following several top members of MCI and IMA including Dr. Ajay Kumar and Dr. K.K. Aggarwal falsely claimed that all criminal charges against Dr. Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. The MCI Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) also found the action of Dr. Ajay Kumar and others as “unethical” and recommended to the Health Ministry to take disciplinary action against Dr. Kumar and other high-rank MCI/IMA members. But Indian Health Ministry has remained absolutely silent until now.
PBT also complained with the WMA presiden in France against this corrupt activity by MCI/IMA leaders to reinstate Dr. Desai as WMA president-elect. Unfortunately, WMA has also remained in a deep slumber and refused to take any action against the Indian medical leaders. The WMA has claimed on their website that they are “in official relations” with WHO. As such, PBT has now drawn attention of the WHO (in India) to investigate this sordid incidence between WMA and Ketan Desai and his cronies in MCI/IMA because the blatant reinstatement of Dr. Desai as WMA president-elect while he is still waiting for his criminal trial for serious charges of bribery and corruption to begin has sent a strong negative signal to the ordinary people and “good” doctors of India.
According to published report, BJP President and Prime Minister Modi’s closest confidante, Amit Shah’s son’s marriage was held through a lavish ceremony in Ahmedabad today where all top ministers and leaders of BJP were present along with disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai (see news below). Apart from most central ministers of the BJP government including the newly chosen health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, the entire Gujarat cabinet headed by chief minister, Anandiben Patel, was also in the guest list along with Ketan Desai.
Only two months ago, Health Minister Nadda also attended a medical conference in Ahmedabad sitting next to Desai ignoring strong objection from PBT. Even the Additional Solicitor General of BJP government, Mr. Tushar Mehta, was also seen in the marriage party along with the top medical mafia, Ketan Desai. It must be noted that Desai is still free on bail, waiting for his trial to begin for serious charges of bribery and corruption. As the health minister enjoys the marriage ceremony with Desai, numerous complaints from PBT and others against Desai and his medical cronies in MCI/IMA are collecting dust in health minister’s office. Can we still trust the BJP government to bring Ketan Desai to justice? Ironically, while the ministers and Desai were enjoying the Amit Shah’s son’s marriage party, BJP was routed by the AAP in Delhi. We call Mr. Modi to wake up and cleanse the rot in the health ministry as otherwise, BJP might look like the Congress party today come next general election.
In a shocking display of mockery of the medical justice system, West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) is refusing to suspend the medical registrations of 5 doctors based in West Bengal whose were found guilty for “medical negligence” by the Medical Council of India (MCI), highest medical regulatory body in India. On 23rd January, MCI wrote to WBMC Registrar asking to take necessary action to suspend medical licenses of 5 doctors who are registered with WBMC for a period of 6 months to 5 years because they were found guilty of causing death of three patients in hospitals in Kolkata, Nadia and Malda. Licenses of Drs. Tapan Mukherjee, Kamal Kumar Das and Joydeep Basu of Uma Medical Center on VIP Road, Kolkata were suspended for a period between 1 and 5 years for causing death of 31-year old wife of Dr. Biman Saharoy during a simple gall stone operation while license of Dr. N.R. Saha, a gynecologist at Malda Nursing Home was suspended for 1 year for causing death of 30-year old wife of Mr. Subir Roy of Malda and license of Dr. Kamal Majumder of Kalyani Hospital was suspended for causing death of 22-year old daughter of Mr. Radhamadhab Das during a simple appendectomy (see the news reports below).
After these victims from different parts of West Bengal came to PBT seeking justice for the wrongful death of their loved ones, they were guided to move the medical council as well as consumer court. The devious WBMC either dismissed or indefinitely delayed hearing of the complaints against doctors, the victims lodged appeal to MCI under section 8.7 or 8.8 of MCI “Code of Medical Ethics & Regulations” (these laws were created by Supreme Court of India in response to a PIL filed by PBT in 2000). While MCI found all 5 doctors guilty for medical negligence and directed WBMC to suspend the licenses of the errant doctors for a specified period of time, WBMC has remained absolutely silent as the negligent doctors continue practice medicine. PBT has lodged a formal complaint with WBMC Registrar, Mr. D.K. Ghosh, urging him to immediately suspend the licenses of the guilty doctors failing which PBT may move the court of law for the ends of justice.
In the upcoming (February 16, 2015) issue of the popular magazine “Outlook”, a critical analysis on how the World Medical Association (WMA) has been systematically influenced by disgraced ex-Medical Council of India (MCI) president, Ketan Desai, and his cronies who are now occupying top positions in MCI as well as Indian Medical Association (IMA) will appear (see the Outlook report available online below). As noted in the Outlook article, Desai is not only aided by the top officials in MCI/IMA, he also enjoys support from all political parties (with the sole exception of AAP). While the last health minister under the Congress government, Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad, was well known to be a close ally of Desai, the new health minister under BJP government, Mr. J.P. Nadda, publicly appeared with Desai at a medical conference in Ahmedabad last December despite an appeal made by PBT urging Mr. Nadda not to appear in the conference with Desai because it would send the wrong signal for the people of India. PBT has also written to the present WMA president and a doctor from France, Xavier Deau, with all evidence of corruption by Desai and his cronies and urging him to remove Desai from the post of WMA president-elect for 2016. But Dr. Deau has opted absolute silence to PBT’s repeated appeals against Desai. As the Outlook report says, although WMA claims that their goal is to achieve “high standard of medical ethics” across the world, it seems that they practice only to promote “unethics” and the most unethical and corrupt medical man from India.
PBT has called a press conference to be held at Calcutta Press Club in Kolkata at 5 pm tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 7) to present a historic development as Medical Council of India (MCI) directed to cancel medical registrations of a large number of doctors for a period ranging 6 months to 5 years on account of patients’ death from “medical negligence”. At least three victims whose loved ones died from gross medical negligence in hospitals across West Bengal came to PBT seeking justice several years ago. The West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) either delayed indefinitely or dismissed the complaints of these victims. Under guidance from PBT, these victims lodged appeals with MCI under sections 8.7 and 8.8 of “Code of Ethics Regulations” (these laws were created as a result of PBT’s PIL in Supreme Court in 2004). Last week, MCI has held doctors in all three cases guilty for medical negligence and directed WBMC to suspend their licenses to practice for a period of up to 5 years. With support from PBT, victims of medical negligence in other states across India have also started to see some glimpse of hope to find justice for the wrongful death of their loved ones. Detail of these cases will be posted soon.
Top-rank international medical journal, British Medical Journal (BMJ), published a report this week on the recent muddle with reinstatement of disgraced ex-Medical Council of India (MCI) president, Dr. Ketan Desa, as WMA president-elect for 2016 (see BMJ report below). Dr. Desai has a long and grossly tainted history in Indian medicine which is known to most ordinary people in India. Despite a checkered past, Dr. Desai has been able to maintain a firm grip over the medical education and healthcare regulation system in India with support from his unscrupulous cronies many of whom are still occupying top positions in MCI and Indian Medical Association (IMA).
After Desai was caught red-handed by CBI for taking bribe from a private medical college in 2010, MCI was dissolved under massive public pressure. Although Desai managed to get himself selected for the prestigious post of WMA president for 2010, WMA was compelled to remove Desai from his post of president-elect following his arrest by CBI in 2010. After staying in jail for several months, Desai was released on bail later in 2010. While free on bail, Desai is waiting for his criminal trial to begin for serious charges of bribery and corruption.
Last year, WMA suddenly declared that Desai would be reinstated as WMA president-elect for 2016 based on a fabricated claim some IMA leaders including Dr. Ajay Kumar and Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, boh members of IMA/MCI, that all charges against Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. PBT launched strong protest against such fraudulent act by the IMA/MCI leaders and demanded that Desai must be removed from his post of WMA president-elect. Now a top leader of WMA, Dr. Mukesh Haikarwal from Australia, has come forward to defend Desai and claimed that there is no bar to make Desai as WMA president-elect until he is convicted by the court. According to the rules of Indian government and that of most other countries, a public official must be suspended indefinitely who has been found prima facie guilty for criminal offense and put in jail for more than 48 hours until he is acquitted by the court. More importantly, WMA also suspended Desai and removed him from the post of president-elect in 2010 soon after his arrest by CBI even when no charges were framed against him. Now charges have been framed and Desai is waiting for trial to start anytime, WMA decided to reinstate him as president-elect because he has not been “convicted” by the court yet. Even more shockingly, this WMA leader has stated to BMJ that Desai must be highly “regarded” as a medical figure in India since he recently attended an IMA conference where the newly selected health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, also took part. Why this sudden change of heart of WMA to favor Desai? Has the evil of healthcare corruption crossed Indian border and infiltrated even the largest world medical body?