Not even a month has passed since Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in Anuradha Saha death case, medical leaders have started crying foul and leaders of Indian Medical Association (IMA) headed by famed cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty have now demanded that there should be a maximum limit (“cap”) of compensation that any doctor or hospital may pay for causing death of a patient from medical negligence (see news below). Dr. Shetty and IMA, however; have not provided a figure in rupees what should be the maximum worth of a human life. Dr. Shetty has also made a baseless claim that some states in USA have capped damages in medical negligence cases to a maximum of Rs. 1.5 crore, which is far less than what the Apex Court awarded to Anuradha’s husband for his wife’s death. While some states have imposed a “cap” against negligent doctors in USA but this “cap” or limit is only for “non-economic” damages which include damages for pain and suffering.
There is absolutely no “cap” or limit on “economic” damages (e.g. loss of salary) in compensation against doctors and hospitals anywhere in USA. In fact, courts in USA routinely award tens of millions of dollars for death from medical negligence. In a country like India with large number of poor and uneducated population, most victims of medical negligence perhaps do not even realize that they have fallen victim to wrong treatment. On the other hand, private hospitals force patients to pay exorbitant charges which are never audited by the inept government in India. Many families in India go bankrupt from a single ailment of their loved one. Should there be a “cap” on the limitless hospital charge in India? Will the caring doctors like Dr. Shetty or other leaders of IMA ever raise their voices in support of such a “cap” to help the vulnerable patients in India?