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Medical negligence complaints in J&K need redressal

Source: , Posted On:   17 December 2020

Medical negligence complaints in J&K need redressal | Greater Kashmir

In J&K complaints of medical negligence go unheard, a scenario that experts feel could lead to inefficiency and unaccountability in the healthcare system here.

On Wednesday, a family of a Srinagar toddler lodged protest against the alleged medical negligence by a private eye hospital. The child, following an eye procedure, had suffered “brain damage” as per the family. They alleged that it was due the badly-administered anesthesia at the hospital. Post procedure, the family said, the 14-month-old had been rendered “paralyzed”. They alleged that the hospital did not address their complaint of medical negligence.

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This is not an isolated incident though. Every month, reports of people alleging maltreatment, inadequate treatment, neglect and apathy by the doctors, paramedics and hospitals fill the news space. However, a senior medical professional working at SKIMS, Soura said that the complaints never get addressed as they never reach the body mandated to address them.

“Beyond the customary suspension in some isolated cases, what happens to such complaints?” he lamented.

As per the rules, every department, medical college and hospital must have a complaint registration and redress system. Over this, the Directorate of Health Services and J&K Medical Council (JKMC) are mandated to ensure ethical practice of doctors and investigate and dispose off any complaints regarding medical practitioners. However, a senior official in Health and Medical Education department said the complaints never reach these bodies as people are not aware of the mechanism that needs to be followed regarding allegations against a healthcare provider or system. “In the past year, and even before that, not a single complaint has been registered by JKMC,” he said.

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Director General Youth Services and Sports, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, who heads the JKMC agreed about the lack of awareness regarding the complaint registration system across the Health department. He said that the DHSK, DHSJ and government medical colleges had to make their systems robust, efficient and ensure that people know what to do in case of a grievance. “A copy of the grievance has to reach us as well,” he said. Rehman said that though the primary role of JKMC was registration of doctors, it was also entrusted to ensure that these doctors do not violate the “ethos of ethical practice”. “We definitely need to work harder on that front,” he said.

Head of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at Government Medical College, Srinagar Prof S Saleem Khan said the government must create awareness regarding the accountability in the healthcare system. Khan said he was taken aback recently when someone mentioned that people know how and where to complain regarding rotten onions but they do not know what to do in case they feel they were not provided requisite treatment by a doctor.

However, he warned against “generalisations” and said that not all complaints had merit. “Nevertheless, we need a robust system for complaints of negligence in order to instill responsibility and accountability in healthcare systems,” he said.