A rare development that should bring a glimpse of hope for the countless victims of “medical negligence” across India, Medical Council of India (MCI) has found Dr. Jayanarayan Naik, a top cardiologist and Director of Cardiology Services at “Medica Superspeciality Hospital”, a premier private hospital in Kolkata, negligent for causing death of a retired Air-force Officer, Mr. R.S. Verma and directed to cancel Dr. Naik’s medical registration for a period of 3 months. Mr. Verma died from gross medical negligence by Dr. Naik after a simple angiogram procedure in the Kolkata hospital in 2009 following his daughter, Jayeeta Verma Sarkar, contacted PBT in her quest for justice for her departed father and after almost three years of excruciating struggle during which both West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and Orissa Medical Council (OMC) simply guarded the errant doctor and found no evidence of wrongful therapy, MCI has finally held Dr. Nail guilty for medical negligence (see the news below).
Ever since Jayeeta Verma Sarkar came to PBT seeking help in her search for justice, she has been an ardent supporter and volunteer for PBT because without the new laws (Sections 8.7 and 8.8) that were enacted into MCI “Code of Ethics and Regulations”) only because of Supreme Court’s directions in response to the PIL filed by PBT (W.P. No. 316/2000), Jayeeta would never even have a chance to find justice. While Section 8.7 provides right to appeal to MCI if any state medical council fails to complete investigation against the accused doctor within a period of 6 months, Section 8.8 provides the right to the victim of “medical negligence” to appeal against an adverse decision by a state medical council.
Since Mr. Verma died in a Kolkata hospital, Jayeeta naturally lodged a complaint with WBMC seeking to cancel the medical registration of Dr. Naik. After sitting on the complaint for a long time, WBMC informed Jayeeta that they could not do any investigation since Dr. Naik was originally registered in Orissa. After the complaint was transferred to OMC, they eventually gave a clean chit to Dr. Naik against which Jayeeta filed an appeal under Section 8.8 based on which MCI has held Dr. Naik guilty for “medical negligence”.
A question must be raised how the doctors in the state medical council (OMC) found nothing wrong with the treatment of Dr. Naik when the doctors in MCI found him grossly negligent based on the same medical records? The answer must be apparent to all – the state medical councils being composed of only local doctors basically function to shield their local medical buddies without caring for the lives of the ordinary people. A glaring example of this deplorable but common practice was exposed with the sham investigation of the three top Kolkata doctors by WBMC in the well-known Anuradha Saha death case. As we reported before, 17 doctor-members of the WBMC who exonerated all accused doctors (all of whom were found guilty later by MCI as well as Supreme Court of India) in Anuradha death case have been criminally indicted under IPC Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”) and 201 (“screening offender”) and will now stand the criminal trial. The Verma case once again underscores the presence of pervasive corruption in the medical regulatory system in India. Ironically, although MCI seemingly acted in good faith to hold Dr. Naik guilty for medical negligence going against the verdict of OMC, the punishment of suspension of Dr. Naik’s practicing license for a period of only 3 months is nothing but a travesty of justice. PBT is planning to move the appropriate legal forum against such arbitrary and capricious punishment awarded against the errant doctors even after holding them guilty for causing death of a patient. As the recent episode of “Satyamev Jayate” by Aamir Khan showed, registrations of many doctors in the UK (and USA and other developed countries) have been permanently cancelled for medical and/or ethical violaiton. In the annals of Indian medicine, not a single doctor has lost his license permanently. Suspension of registration for 3 months for causing death of a patient is just like a joke – the wealthy doctor would have a vacation around the world with his family and return to re-start his practice. Could this be called “Justice”?