Doctors’ Dilemma-To Follow Medical Science or Fulfill Medico-legal obligations (contract)


Medical Negligence case- Noida (death due to Covid -19)  is an example that should force the aspiring doctors needs to think whether they should put themselves in such a situation- akin to catching a falling knife.  A case which shows that in difficult situations, legal compulsions have potential to affect the treatment, without realizing what is good for the patient or actually required.  In difficult circumstances, while treating diseases with naturally poor prognosis, they can be still held responsible  for the situations  beyond their control. Doctors can be harassed for just being in a peculiar situation  and for being the only one  on the bedside of patient. Everyone wants some human factor to blame for the loss, which was at the best  God’s wish in real sense.

While  treating emergencies patients, there is  an eternal latent vulnerability that is intrinsic in the way doctors’ work, which turns more evil, just because of an unexpected poor outcome. Due to  misfortune of the patient, the  randomness of the tragic tale imposed on  the doctor becomes difficult to fathom.

No one can forget the dreadful times of Covid pandemic and the sacrifice of doctors. There was severe scarcity of beds, drugs, and even oxygen, a scary situation no one even imagined. There was  no one inside Covid ICU’s, none of the  relatives to support  their patients, except doctors and nurses.

     A patient who comes with 60 % saturation level of oxygen, but wants Remdesivir to be administered. His wish to get administered Remdesivir is taken as a legal contract between doctor and patient. Without  realizing that in such situations  administration of oxygen was   lifesaving but Remdesivir was not.  Doctors know the fact but patients are commonly misguided by the media reports.  Patients insisting upon Remdesivir,  that was not available. But could the doctor refer the patient to some other hospital with 60% saturation- especially in those uncertain times-taking that risk was not a feasible option. What would an average doctor have done? Only option was to  manage the  dangerous and precariously low oxygen levels. That is a standard medical teaching in critical situations. All drugs are of secondary importance. In this case, as proved by later studies – role of Remdesivir turned out to be doubtful, but oxygen was proved to be of real help.

    But patients precondition for admission was to get Remdesivir, a false belief generated more by media than scientific evidence. A false belief hence generated by media gave Remdesivir  the status of  a panacea and lot of money to the company, who sold it.

    But medicolegal compulsions  stamped the administration of Remdesivir as a contract between doctor and patient. A contract that needed to be fulfilled, akin to that of constructing a building. But it is actually different to treat critical human ailments from constructing a building. They cannot be treated merely by wish of the patient. Unfortunately, Remdesivir was not available and all the blame for death was conveniently loaded on the treating doctor.

  Doctors’ dilemma in present era is generated by conflicting solutions given by medicolegal implications and principles of medical science. Needless to say, doctors  will have adopt to defensive practice to save themselves from medico-legal harassments. For example in this case, doctor could have sent patient to some other hospital (in sick condition), according to patients’ wish for Remdesivir. But would that have been a right decision from medical point of view.  But legally it would have been safer for doctors.

 In other words- the blame -patient didn’t die of Covid-19 but because of lack of Remdesivir. What a sad conclusion for doctors? Non-availability of drugs is not doctors’fault.

   To save themselves from such medico-legal predicaments, aspiring doctors needs to think whether they should put themselves in such a situation akin to catching a falling knife.  

NOIDA: Five doctors of a private hospital have been booked under IPC Section 304A (causing death by negligence) in an FIR filed on the recommendation from the health department, whose preliminary inquiry found merit in allegations of a “delay” in administering remdesivir to a 22- year-old college student who died during the second wave of Covid last year. The management of Yatharth Hospital here rejected the charge, saying its doctors did their best to treat the patient, who was admitted in a critical state in April 2021. They also pointed to a remdesivir shortage at the time, and subsequent research that says the antiviral drug does not help in Covid treatment. A top-ranking official of the Indian Medical Association, meanwhile, stressed the need for a central law to safeguard doctors against such “violent action”. In cases of negligence against doctors, the health department has to verify allegations before a case is registered by police. In December 2021, Pradeep Sharma had told UP’s Pandemic Public Redressal Committee that his son Deepanshu (22) was not given the remdesivir injection on the first day of his admission to Yatharth Hospital in Sector 110 on April 30. This was despite the family having paid for the treatment, Sharma, a resident of Vijay Nagar in Ghaziabad, alleged. The committee forwarded the complaint to the health department in January 2022. “The preliminary inquiry has found negligence on part of the doctors as a delay was made in administering remdesivir injection to the patient,” the deputy CMO said in the inquiry report. Police said they would now be able to take up the case for investigation. The hospital administration defended its doctors and their line of treatment. “Deepanshu Sharma was brought to us with severe illness. His oxygen saturation was just around 60% and his lungs were affected. During Covid’s second wave, there were a lot of patients and the remdesivir injection was also not easily available. But we managed to arrange the injection for him in 2-3 days and administered it to him,” said Dr Kapil Tyagi, managing director of Yatharth Hospital. Deepanshu was admitted to the hospital for 35 days, after which his family shifted him to a private hospital in Delhi. He died at the facility in June. His father could not be reached for comment on Monday

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