Friday, 14 October 2016

Difference of opinion and error of judgement is not negligience: IMA & HCFI

Difference of opinion and error of judgement is not negligience: IMA & HCFI New Delhi, 13th October 2016: Imagine the following scenario, a person suspected of a serious crime is facing court judgemement for his actions. The lower court offers him death sentence, the case is then taken to the high court where life sentence is offered to the individual. Now comes the supreme court which upon careful reconsideration of facts and evidences, abolishes all the previous sentences and grants freedom to the individual. Had the high court and the supreme court not been involved, our hypothetical individual might have faced the death sentence inevitably. In this case, is the lower court negligient? The answer is obviously, NO. So, difference of opinion is not considered a professional deficiency and is a routine and accepted norm. Then why this same dogma not applied in the medical field where the inability to save a patient’s life directly translates into allegations of negligience on part of the doctor? This is sadly the widespread public perception, and as a medical professional having devoted my career to the field, it is extremely unacceptable to me. “Every now and then, news reports of wrongful allegations on doctors are in the media. Some of these are sound and true but a vast proportion of these allegations of negligience are false or irrational. Such allegations can completely ruin a medical professional’s career. Most of these allegations crop in after the patient gets a second opinion from a physician who happens to have a different set of opinion regarding the treatment method”, said Padma Shri Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal – National President Elect Indian Medical Association and President Heart Care Foundation of India. “The question that needs addressal is, who gets the deciding vote when such a difference of opinion arises in the clinical setting? The answer is, an expert in the corresponding field should decide what opinion is the most accurate one , considering the benefit of the patient. So, if an expert is brought in by the patient or the doctor, his/her view on the matter should be accepted, not subject to any further reconsiderations”, he added. In the following scenarios differences of opinion does NOT mean negligience: 1. A physician who scored 50% marks and another who scored 90% marks, differ in the course of treatment for a patient. It does not mean negligience, simply a difference of opinion that needs careful reconsideration by an expert. 2. Death does not mean negligience. In an I.C.U, 5-10% of the patients will die, even with the best of care. This is the sad truth, because in an I.C.U, the patients are already in a serious clinical state and statistically speaking, 5-10% mortality is inevitable. 3. Sudden death is common and unforseeable. Sudden death is death occurring within one hour of manifestation of symptoms. It can be due to a heart, brain or lung attack. A patient may be seemingly okay and five minutes later, he/she may succumb to sudden death. Thus, unpredicatbility does not mean negligience. It is important in the light of recent events that awareness be generated about the plight of medical health proffessionals wrongfully accused of negligience. Doctors are an important part of the community and safeguarding their right to perform their duties without the fear of such allegations is our duty. More information and special insights about this issue will be discussed in the upcoming MTNL Perfect Health Mela from 25-29th October, 2016 at Talkatora indoor stadium, New Delhi.

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