THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT AND RIGHTS OF CONSUMER:
PATIENT AS A CONSUMER
Traditionally, patients in
WHAT IS MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE?
Medical negligence is defined as a failure to exercise reasonable skill and care in diagnosis and treatment as per the prevalent standards as that particular point of time. An aggrieved patient who believes that he is a victim of medical negligence can now approach the Consumer Courts for fair compensation, and expect results in a relatively shorter period of two to three years. The procedure is comparatively simple and inexpensive.
THE PATIENT'S RIGHTS
In the interest of a healthy doctorpatient relationship, A patient should Know his rights as a consumer:
1. You have a right to be told all the facts about your illness; to have your medical records explained to you; and to be made aware of risks and side effects, if any, of the treatment prescribed for you do not hesitate to question your doctor about any of these aspects.
2. When you are being given a physical examination, you have a right to be handled with consideration and due regard for your modesty.
3. You have a right to know your doctor's qualifications. If you cannot evaluate them yourself, do not hesitate to ask someone who can.
4. You have a right to complete confidentiality regarding your illness.
5. If you are doubtful about the treatment prescribed and especially an operation suggested, you have a right to get a second opinion from any specialist.
6. You have a right to be told in advance what an operation is for and the possible risks invoved. If this is not possible because of your being unconscious or for some other reasons, your nearest relatives must be told before they consent to the operation.
7. If you are to be discharged or moved to another hospital, you have a right to be informed in advance and to make your own choice of hospital of nursing home, in consultation with the doctor.
8. You have a right to get your case papers upon request.
A PATIENT'S PRECAUTIONS UNDERGOING OR PLANNING MEDICAL TREATMENT
1. Make sure you have told all relevant facts to the doctor before deciding any treatment.
2. Unless it is a life threatening emergency, the final decision about the treatment should be taken after proper deliberation and/or second opinion.
3. Please seek clarification for all the doubts regarding diagnosis/treatment/investigation.
4. Discuss with your doctor the cost of the treatment. Please make sure the cost includes possible complications.
5. During the treatment, If you are not satisfied with any aspect and/or have doubts, seek clarification from the doctor.
6. Keep all receipts/prescriptions/reports/discharge cards safely and keep extra photo copies.
7. After treatment clarify all doubts regarding bills/payments etc before discharge.
8. Involve your family physician in the discussion with the specialist doctor.
9. In case of a deth during the treatment, if you are not satisfied with the cause of death, demand a post mortem examination and get copies of the entire Indoor Case Record. This is the right of every patient/legal heir.
10. It is necessary and correct to discuss with the concerned doctor all the doubts before resorting to any legal action. Many of the complications/delays/mishaps in any medical treatment can be genuine.
11. In case you require expert medical advice regarding the legitimacy of your complaint about medical malpractice or deficiency in service you may approch the Association for Consumer Action on Safety and Health (ACASH) or any similar organisation.
CPA AND MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE
The Consumer protection Act 1986 (CPA) is a unique legislation which provides for speedy and economical redressal in a simple manner. It has been held in a number of cases under CPA that instances of medical negligence are covered by CPA. Given below is a brief of the provisions under CPA.
Those unfortunate enough to experience gross malpractice may approach (in writing or in person) the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum when the compensation claims amount to less than Rs.5 Lakhs. Claims between Rs.5 Lakhs and Rs.20 Lakhs may be taken to the State Consumer Dispute Commission. Claims above Rs.20 Lakhs may be placed before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The addresses of the above bodies may be obtained from your local consumer organisation. All complaints must be endored by the written opinion of two expert specialists in the medical field.
CHECK IF YOUR COMPLAINT COVERS THE FOLLOWING POINTS
1. Name and Address of the complainant in full.
2. Name and Address of the opposite parties.
3. When and where cause of the complaint arose.
4. Particulars of the complaint in detail along with supporting documents as exhibits.
5. Relief prayed. such as replacement/removal of defect or return of price/compensation for expenses incurred & physical/mental torture, if any. While asking for claims the amount should be within reasonable limits and justifiable.
6. The entire set of papers regarding the complaint, along with exhibits, is to be given in 1+3 sets and one set each for every aditional opposite party.
1. The relief claimed by you should be in clear word.
2. The complaint can be sent in Marathi,Hindi or English. If the company's office is in another State, it is better to make the complaints in English.
3. The complaint should not be on a post card.
4. Three copies of the complaint, together with all the annexures for the Forum and extra sets for each of the opponents should be filed, together with the above three copies.
5. The complaint can be sent by post.
6. Complaints of a representative nature may be filed by registered Consumer Organisations Like Consumer Guidance Society of