Black coat vs white coat. What if money part is taken out of medico legal cases?


What if  financial part  is taken out of medico-legal issues, like compensation and lawyers fee?  The cases will drop down drastically?  If money part is zero, only errors will be identified and punished. Few  will remain only for idea of revenge.  In an era where people cheat their brothers, sisters and spouses for money, it will be naïve to think that idea of money extracting from doctors does not exist.

Financial  zeroing  can be done  in larger public interest to  keep down the cost of medical expenses.  It is  because of career building of few professions, that medico-legal cases are being fueled. Medical errors and complications are integral part of the treatment . Even simplest of diseases carry some amount of risk.  These  will still remain, even if doctors are hanged to death. Natural complications, poor prognosis can be attributed to errors by clever lawyering and because of benefit derived by other professions.

     Many careers  are  shining in name of preventable deaths  and medical errors at the cost of medical profession.  The managers, right activists, media   and lawyers  have made their career and wealth out of it. Ask any doctor really, are these issues really preventable after a point.  The  line separating errors or natural complications is really blurred and arbitrary. People who work in life and death situation know it well that  even natural poor prognosis can be labelled and proved as error by retrospective analysis and wisdom of hindsight and more certainly with luxury of time at disposal for lawyers and courts.

     Lawyers  and courts  should also be given those fraction of moments to decide same as is available to doctors. Otherwise it becomes a unbalanced match specially when the amount of money which was paid to doctor to save a life was peanuts as compared to now being paid to punish him.

Doctor need to train themselves for “ Cool” communication with patients to save themselves.@ Supreme court on insensitive comments by Shimla Doc


Doctors are sitting ducks for revenge, which can be in many forms. It is necessary  not to make unnecessary comments during discussions with patients and relatives.  A sweet talk or even  stoic silence is still better than  making  irrelevant  and insensitive comments. Sometimes, in emergencies doctors are too busy, feeling harassed, and in heat of moment , they  utter some words. But later, no one will take into account the amount of distress in emergency situations.  Irrespective of the number of patients, try to refrain from uttering the words, which are non- professional.  But few words said  in disgust will be remembered by patient and interpreted by courts in  retrospective analysis can be held against the doctors..

Supreme court granted an additional Rs 10 lakh in compensation to a woman from hills in medical negligence case on finding about the insensitive  comment  made by doctor at hospital in Shimla

 Few points, which should be followed are as under to save themselves from future harassment. There can be many more.

  1. Do not have a word match with patient or attendants.
  2. If attendant are shouting or angry, restrain your mind and do not answer to give back in same words. Better to be silent.
  3. Try to avoid being in that situation, specially if you are being irritated and some thing goes out of your mouth.
  4. If the situation is arising because diagnosis is not clear or not able to treat, try to refer the patient, without  making  comments.
  5. Try to have cool and calm communication and make a record of it.
  6. Communication should be  regarding only professional matters. Rest all irrelevant communication to be avoided.
  7. Unreasonable and unrealistic demands are not uncommon . Just tell calmly about the same. Do not make angry or sarcastic comments.

But sometimes when  during ongoing  medico legal lawsuits, a feeling  of revenge prevails  or as guided by lawyers,  such uttered words may cause unnecessary problems.

  “Documenting  the communication”

  • examine, investigate, diagnosis , treat correctly and communicate
  • Make a note of plan of treatment and prognosis, and communicate to patient or attendants.
  • Sign yourself and ask the patient or nearest relative to sign.
  • It is not uncommon that relative will refuse to sign. In that case just write a note and mention that attendant refuses to sign.
  • It is also a common issue that after listening to everything, relative will say that he does not understand or will ask his uncle or aunt. These are difficult moments and commonly happen. Just make a note of everything. Besides it wastes crucial time.
  • Can use camera for communication in difficult cases.
  • Never rely on verbal communication. It has little value.  Commonly people refuse to admit verbal communication, and will say that they were not told anything.

As time for everything is limited in life, be it treatment, communication, consent or documentation. . “Talk less and write more”. You will be judged by documents after many years.

Doctors need to train themselves to restrain and avoid irrelevant comments, to save themselves.

Illegal Organ (Kidney)transplant trade : Defined as crime, but saves life


A paradox, where a defined crime saves a life and following law and regulation correctly will result in end of life. If some one is asked to choose between a certain death or follow regulations, the choice will be very predictable. A patient , who has an irreversible organ failure, will try to defy death at all cost. People who can afford, can not see their children or loved ones to die, just for the sake of following law and regulations. Genuine concern here will be that If a patient can be cured of disease, why he should be left to die for just regulations. The wish to live is the basic reason, why the procedures, which are termed illegal, will flourish. They will thrive underground or in countries, where laws are lax. Touts, agents and liaison managers are people, who will be beneficiary and mint money by organization of the procedure. The people who can afford, get gift of life, in the bargain.

Organ transplant may be termed illegal, in certain circumstances as defined by Law. But legal or illegal, it gives life . It gives another chance to people to live or have their kith and kin, children , spouses and parent to live another life. Because of gap in demand and supply, when legal means do not help, adoption of illegal means becomes a compulsion. If following law and rules means death, they are unlikely to be complied with.

The gap in demand and supply of organs is the reason behind these activities. Nearly four lakh people suffering from end stage kidney failure need transplant and only 8000 get it. (Times of India). The recipient has two choices for Kidneys. It can be living donor and deceased donor or cadaveric in cases of brain death. 90% come from relatives, rest are cadaveric. The rest has to undergo repeated dialysis to survive.

After the enactment of The Human Organ Transplantation Act of 1994, transplants became less in India. But it was followed by booming market of donors In other countries like Pakistan, Philippines .

But given the circumstances of life and death, the underground market may still be existent.

The ACT also allows unrelated donors to give one of the kidneys if there is sufficient evidence to show that they know the recipient for a long time and are donating organs out of affection. The loophole has potential to be exploited. The affection or the papers for affection can be easily generated in today’s era in lieu of money or other favors in case of high profile cases. Therefore, the mediator’s work becomes easier to generate the papers projecting affection and tutoring and training of donors and recipient.

Alternatively, the procedure can be done in nearby countries. Therefore the role of doctor or surgeon doing a transplant (although the key point) is much smaller than the agent organizing the whole process. Thereby the agents , who can manage and organize the show, are thriving. The wish to defy a certain death is stronger than following the regulation. That will remain so till demand supply gap reduced , better awareness for brain death, medical infrastructure, organ retrieval and transport and supporting facilities are uplifted. Till it happens, even if it is defined as crime, the fruits will outweigh the risks, because of shear margin of money temptations and wish to live.

Thousands Healthy deaths vs one hospital death. Perception of moral burden of negligence (# SUPREME COURT on pothole deaths)


There is a  infernal  difference in  the kind of  media  projection, burden of negligence and accountability of preventable multiple healthy deaths by civic negligence   as compared to one hospital death occurring due to severe  disease. In fact the burden of   negligence here in healthy deaths is massive and  these deaths are unpardonable. But reality is opposite.  Strangely  “alleged and perceived negligence” ( with no proof and no investigation )  in death of someone already having disease  and death in hospital  during treatment attracts more scrutiny and   stringent  punishment   as compared to a naked “negligence  in deaths of healthy people” in such cases  of civic negligence.  

Massive civic negligence  leading to  entirely preventable loss of lives. These incidents bring fore the misplaced priorities of media and society which too have  contributed to  some extent to these unabated ongoing preventable   deaths  of  thousands of  healthy people.

 

Deaths due to potholes ‘unacceptable’,  Supreme court

The bench,  said the number of deaths from 2013 to 2017 in accidents due to potholes indicated that the authorities concerned were not maintaining the roads. The Supreme Court Thursday expressed concern over 14,926 people being killed in road accidents due to potholes in last five years and termed it “unacceptable”. A bench said the large number of deaths caused due to potholes across the country was “probably more than those killed on border or by the terrorists”. Terming the situation as frightening, the top court had asked the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety to look into the matter. The bench had also said that people who have lost their lives as a result of accidents due to potholes should be entitled to compensation. 

 

Multiple  Deaths  in healthy people by civic negligence :

Large numbers of death and morbidity happen amongst absolutely healthy population due to preventable causes like open manholes, drains, live electric wires, water contamination, dengue, malaria, recurring floods  etc. These deaths  of people are in thousands, and are almost entirely of healthy people, who otherwise were not at risk of death. In fact the burden of   negligence here is massive and  these deaths are unpardonable

 

       Single  Death in Hospital due to disease:

The media has always, instead, focused on the stray  and occasional incidents of perceived alleged negligence  in hospital deaths which could have occurred due to critical medical condition of patient. However an impression is created as if the doctors have killed a healthy person. It is assumed without any investigation that it was doctor’s fault.  Media has been responsible for creating a misunderstanding about the whole process of treatment and creating  something sensational out of nothing.

 

Point to ponder-Misplaced priorities:

Who is to be  blamed for  the deaths of healthy people which occur because of civic negligence? Here relatives may be helpless and  the vital questions  may go unanswered or taken as a routine.  There are no punching bags like doctor  for revenge. But on the contrary, any stray incident of death of an already ill patient is blown out of proportion by media forgetting the fact that thousands of patients are saved everyday by  doctors. But media instead chose to defame medical profession by igniting the emotions of people by sensationalizing death of diseased and ill,  who probably were already at risk of death and did not give due importance to highlighting prevention of healthy  and absolutely 100% preventable deaths.

Right issues raised at right time will save thousands of healthy preventable deaths. Multiple  healthy deaths should carry more burden of negligence than  one death due to disease.

      

Story of Unlabeled drugs and Fraud In name of Ayurvedic treatment


         A myth, that any plant extracted drug is useful, free of side effects, is a belief ingrained deep in the minds of people. Such unscrupulous advice is followed blindly without even verifying the authenticity of the source. A hope of miracle is flashed to patients who have been given a “no hope” by scientific medicine, are an easy prey for such fraudsters.

   Another major problem is that medicines and syrups distributed in such manner are without name of drug, contents and doses. It is not uncommon to get lethal substances like steroids, hormones and heavy metals in dangerous doses.  

     Ayurvedic medicines and practitioners  belong to a  stream, also based on a  science. The medicines and treatment has to be  controlled and regulated in the same way, as for allopathic  stream.  So that criminals, who are not trained in ayurvedic stream can not play with lives of gullible people, giving them false hope.  Such acts  are  real crime to society, done with an intention to cheat rather than treating them.

   Any one distributing medicines or medical advice of any kind, has to be registered with a council, for those particular medicines. advertisement of such drugs or products should be on some scientific basis.

Regulating Ayurvedic medicines and practice will help  not only the genuine  Ayurvedic  doctors but also go a long way  in benefiting the ancient system of medicine and promote research.  

  Following may be just one of the cases, millions may remain unnoticed.

False ayurveda hopes to the hopeless

Tarun Mandal has spent almost all of his savings trying to get his son, suffering from acute jaundice since his birth, treated for the past one and a half years. A desperate Mandal recently paid a youth Rs 65,000 for an ayurvedic cure. However, his wife’s suspicion about the ‘gold ash’ tasting like churan led cops to an inter-state racket cheating terminally ill patients with a promise of cure. Mandal, who sells food items on a cart at the Sarojini Nagar market, was not the only one to fall in the trap. Cops have found at least 40 people who had been duped by the gang. Most of the victims are family members of children from different states getting treated in the capital’s top government hospitals.
“I gave away all my savings to them. They even guaranteed that all my money would be returned if the medicines failed. But when I went back to the same shop, they refused to recognise me,” said Mandal, who has already spent Rs 2 lakh and needs more money for a surgery.
The gang has also duped the grandfather of a seven-year-old thalessemia patient from Uttarakhand.

other incident dangerous chemicals in alternate medicines

Real failures of Dr Hazida Bawa case: Five issues to ponder-why doctors suffer?


 The case of  Dr Hazida Bawa  is of importance worldwide in many ways, an opportunity  for learning some hard and truthful lessons, as it touched upon various crucial aspects involved in medical treatment, especially in difficult situations. Every one has sympathy for the deceased, but  to blame a human factor, doctors should not be presented as sacrificial lambs.

       The current verdict is nearer to reality and away from a feeling of revenge and harsher penalties. It  gives a hope  that now there will be  acknowledgement of the difficult circumstances and limitations of medical system in health care environment.  To make doctor scapegoat for the  system limitations, poor prognosis or severe disease may be satisfying for some but not sensible. In this case doctors lodged their protest, collected money for lawsuit and the decision was re-looked legally. But every  doctor may not be  lucky enough and may have to suffer  in silence.

 Real failure in this case will be ignoring the factors that actually cause huge suffering for doctors-

  1. Presumptive failure by retrospective analysis: Retrospective analysis of any treatment will always show few things at hindsight that could have been done and would have proved life saving.  One may presume that omission or commission  of certain actions during treatment would have saved the  life,   but one can’t be sure whether these additional presumed treatment would really have benefited the patient.  Therefore a  perception-reality gap is created and with  negative perception towards doctors, it is interpreted as a  failure of doctor merely on presumptive basis and hence declared as negligence.  The doctors who deal with life and death know that it is not correct interpretation, and no one can ever be sure of what the real outcome would be. They just do what they think will be most effective for the patient, and it may not eventually turn out to be the best ever.
  2. Variable interpretation: Same evidence, incidence and circumstances are interpreted and  judged differently by people and  even courts. Some will say it is negligence and other will say it is not. Some will bay for doctor’s blood and other will not. This variation in perception is not only in minds of lay men but also in the learned courts, who  decide  differently.  At the time of death of patient, a constant and  universal last link is only the doctor, that is visible. He is an unfortunate victim, a human factor   and blamed for  the harm done because of variable thought process.

 

  1. Medical knowledge vs wisdom: People who do not treat patients, may be very wise and may acquire medical knowledge by various sources. But medical wisdom comes  only after years of medical practice,  by observing varied situations and spectrum of diseases. An understanding of what can happen in given circumstances comes only by treating such   emergencies.         For non doctors, it is very difficult to  comprehend the medical complexities and real time scenarios. Even doctors, who do not treat regularly emergency patients, can attribute the harm as doctor’s  mistake.

 

  1. Feeling of revenge:  in case of an  adverse event, negative thoughts prevail all over. In present scenario with legal powers with the sufferer and common sentiments against doctors, it is easier to identify and blame some human factors.   Adverse outcome is frequently covered by media to create a sensation among masses.  Real circumstances can only be felt by doctors  but that remains unheard. Harm to patient, media cry and negative sentiments against the service providers creates a sense of revenge in mind of people.

 

  1. Doctor’s negligence vs system inadequacy; This visibility of doctor at the time of  declaration of death  or while treating the patient on his bedside, makes him vulnerable to all kinds of accusations. By application of an average wisdom, all deaths can be easily attributed or linked to fault of the doctor. Subtle presentations of severe disease, rapid deterioration, multi organ complexities, under staffing and sub optimal systems, inadequate equipment and  other innumerable shortcomings of the whole system may not be visible or not given consideration in the  haze, as compared to  publicity and attention  given to only doctor’s faults.

 

Medical lawsuits, revenge & punishments to doctors : reminiscent of realms of ancient Hammurabi medical regulation


With the evolution of medical science and medical care intertwined with  medical business, braided changes in  medical  regulation is not an far off expectation. But reticulation of evolution to modern medicine  and health care has not happened  in  isolation. Simultaneously there has been  progressively complex emerging trends in medical business and changing patterns of health investments along with an era of corporate investments in health care  has also ushered.  Every one now wishes  to live longer  and  dreams of better quality of life with support of progressive medical care.  Opportunities projected by advancements in health care, have shown that these dreams can be a real possibility, in many cases. That kind of perception has given patients a hope in lieu of some money. With rich people willing to spend more, the insurance sector and investors putting money into health care, which was unthinkable few decades back in the  past.  This reticulation of business and  health care allowed health care to be controlled  in some way by administrators and investors. Away from the health providers, who actually treated the patients.

As it is no more simply treating a disease and involves many more issues.  New model of  medical regulation and business in  health care is  still  not a mature process. It has emerged and progressed in  just  for few decades, as compared to  medical treatments and systems that existed since ancient times. It is still in infancy and still has to go a  long way to do real justice to every one.   No one really knows how to regulate this difficult area,  which encompasses life and death, deals with extremes of poverty and riches, mortality and morbidity, pain and  relief , sadness and happiness, smiles and sorrows and uncountable emotions, intertwines with financial aspects. Most difficult part is  amalgamation of  intricacies of science with minds of  patient and doctor’s skill in  newly evolved milieu of financial complexities.  Results are not encouraging for the medical profession.

 An effort to govern or  regulate the medical profession  is not new. Hammurabi  had initiated to  write the rules of the game. This single professional species was managed with cruel regulation around 5000 years ago, that initiated a change in the global perception and regulatory system in radical and unprecedented ways.

Hammurabi  5000 years ago,  was  not even at the   doorstep of medical science, but he  promulgated some rules. It is difficult to say whether he was naive or  brilliant  enough to make it more mathematical. He fixed  heavy prize for saving lives and used to  cut the hands of physicians for death or untoward incident. But he was still wise enough to pay heavily if life was saved.   After thousands of years, with some scientific advancements, our regulation has remained more or less similar in basics. It is still based on principles of revenge and punishments. Now clearly  knowing well the limitation of medical science and the uncertainties and complexities of human body in better way, it still  remains  somewhat  unfair to doctors.  In other words, it has not attained enough  evolution and maturity.

  Hammurabi at the start of civilization believed that doctors needed to be punished in case there was poor prognosis. He failed to understand the complexity of human body and the limitations of medical  science, most of which was unknown at that time. By an application of average wisdom, doctor can be easily blamed for poor outcome, because he is always a common link between treatment and poor prognosis. Stricter punishments were imposed to  regulate medical profession, even  when the medical science was not even developed enough to deal with most of diseases.  Children are always taught in school that medical profession is a noble one. But they are never told, about the cruelty this profession has faced since ancient times.  Almost universally, the earlier work or contribution of  a doctor  to society is  not taken into account.  Even for complexities of medical science and uncertainties of the outcome, blame can  conveniently be  passed on doctors due to application of average wisdom.

    Hammurabi’s Codex specified the harshest form of deselection of health providers possible. If the physician erred through omission or commission, his fingers or hands were cut off, immediately stopping his practice. Therefore, a single mistake can undo all the good work of past or the future good work that could have been accomplished.

Problem here is that who can differentiate with certainty the real cause of sufferings of patient, a poor prognosis or a mistake.  Such harsh  regulatory systems will dissuade  other good people joining the profession, again  resulting in  further inhibition and flourishing of profession for the good.  Obviously,  harsher  penalties will discourage a physician surplus.

Today the global  system of medical regulation, is becoming somewhat  similar, to those ancient regulations in  terms of punishment and revenge. Differential payment system for health care also resembles the Code of Hammurabi in some respects. And this is despite the fact that now we are very well conversant with the known uncertainty and complexity of the human body and despite cognizance of the poor prognosis in many disease states.

Fear factors on doctors and impact of present legal complexities is already at par with that of Hammurabi’s era

“Doctor, why to risk yourself for petty gains?” Telephonic treatment is negligence: Bombay High Court


“Doctor, save the patient, but save yourself also”.

In medicine, any small or big disease or  procedure can have complications.  Frequently, dangerous complications have a subtle and insidious onset with very little symptoms. DVT and pulmonary thrombo- embolism is a known and life threatening complication associated with pregnancy.  This complication and the unfortunate  scenario that  happened  is not unknown and has a potential to recur. So doctors need to learn from such incidences to save themselves.

Since the overall scenario of medical complication and consumerism have undergone a sea change, doctors need to  be careful and change their approach to save from legal issues arising from these. They have to make sure that each small problem  has to be seen carefully in person, as it may harbour a serious threat.

Observing that prescribing medicines to patients without diagnosis amounted to culpable negligence, the Bombay High Court has turned down the anticipatory bail pleas of a doctor couple booked for the death of a woman patient. The doctors have been booked by the Ratnagiri Police under section 304 of Indian Penal Code (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) after the patient died earlier this year. According to the police, the woman was admitted to the accused couple’s hospital in Ratnagiri in February this year where she underwent caesarean operation and gave birth to a baby. The court order said the woman and the child were normal and were discharged two days later. The doctor spoke with the chemist who then gave some medicines to the relatives of the woman. However, even after taking the medicines, the woman did not feel better and was taken to the same hospital, it said. When the woman’s condition deteriorated the next day, the doctors at the hospital shifted her to another hospital, where she died, it said.

   Question arises, why  doctors commonly   need to prescribe by telephonic advice,  specially as in this case, if the doctor themselves were not available.  what made them  to enter into such a dangerous situation? Do  really there are substantial gains to risk so much and everything in life? The reasons:

  1. Most of the time, to retain the patient. As they already treated the patient, It is a natural tendency to  continue the treatment. Factors here are loyalty issues and loosing patient to other physicians.
  2. Sometimes patient request, to avoid coming to hospital or to avoid visiting unknown hospital or other doctors. It is not uncommon that patients request some advice on phone.
  3. Symptoms do not look dangerous or alarming. Patient interpretation is not appropriate. Even myocardial infarction ( heart attack) is taken  as due to “wind problem.”  Main problem here is that doctor is relying on patient’s interpretation, which is likely to be incorrect.
  4. Most dangerous is a friendly advice or relatives. Where it is mistake of both doctor and patient.
  5. Patient is far off and for convenience

 

So  “Gains” in such situations are nil or petty.

Rarely it is done for earning money. It is just done for the sake of convenience. But doctors should  wake up in  the era of consumerism, where no one is going to pardon them for  mistakes.  Retrospective analysis gained with wisdom of hindsight makes them repent many times more than petty gains.

Doctor need to forgo petty gains in order to save themselves. Do not take chances. No one will realize later, what were the causes and intentions behind the mistake.

“Doctor, save the patient, but save yourself also”.

 

 

Viagra & anaesthetic drug sold as herbal alternative medicines


This news in Times of India  is just an tip of the iceberg, the reality  of alternative medicine  industry. Toxic substances being sold at exorbitant prices  labelled as herbal substances can be unmasked only if checked  and controlled strictly.  Gullible masses consume these substances without knowing the right dose or right drugs thinking them as herbal products . Assumptions that they are free from side effects is another myth, that goes unsaid.

MUMBAI: The Aurangabad division of FDA has found sildenafil citrate, commonly known as Viagra, and a short-acting anaesthetic drug in two alternative  medicines meant to increase sexual desire and potency that were randomly tested for quality recently. The worrying finding has prompted the drug regulatory body to issue a statewide circular asking its officials to seize any available stock of these drugs- Power up capsules and Tiger king cream. The containers of both the alternative medicines didn’t mention the allopathic components sildenafil and anaesthetic drug (lignocaine hydrochloride), giving rise to fear of serious health consequences in people who might consume them unknowingly. Viagra, in particular, which is given for erectile dysfunction, is supposed to be taken only when prescribed by a specialist as it can react with other ongoing medications and give rise to life-threatening complications. In July, FDA officials raided the office of Srishti Unani Medicine Agency in Aurangabad and found stocks worth Rs 16,000 that had arrived from Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Tests revealed each Power up capsule contained 49.45mg of Viagra, while Tiger king cream had a significant amount of lignocaine hydrochloride, though only the herbal components were mentioned in the packing material.

The spurious drugs were manufactured in violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. “We will lodge an FIR against Naman India, the UP-based manufacturer, that has been selling these drugs in the name of herbal medicine to gullible consumers,”, joint commissioner, FDA, Aurangabad. He said the department is yet to establish where these drugs were supposed to be distributed, but there is demand from across the state. It was during a raid in the city sometime in 2015 when the department woke up to rampant adulteration of so-called alternative  medicines with allopathic drugs. An official said it was an “industry worth millions” that clandestinely ran out of Tier-2 and 3 cities or slums in metros. “Under the Act, manufacturing of alternative  drugs needs a licence, but there are no legal provisions for distribution and supply. So monitoring becomes a challenge,” said an FDA official. Medically, doctors say, such rackets are not just about making spurious drugs and making a quick buck but messing with people’s lives. “It’s a menace that has existed for years unchecked. Alternative  practitioners charge exorbitant sums for these  medicines that illegally contain sildenafil, which otherwise costs just Rs 30-40 when sold as an allopathy drug.

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