National Committe reviews ethical and legal perspectives of healthcare

The inaugural meeting of the National Steering Committee to review ethical and legal perspectives of healthcare in the country was held recently in Bangalore


Communication to and with patients, and their relatives and attendees was one area, which needed improvement

The committee, consisting of all major medical and hospital societies in the country, led by the Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA), discussed the present scenario among the medical fraternity, and has representation from the Association of National Board Accredited Institutions (ANBAI), Christian Coalition for Health India (CCHI), Consortium of Accredited Healthcare Organizations (CAHO), Academy of Hospital Administration (AHA), All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS), Association of Otolaryngologists of India (AOI), Association of Physicians India (API), Association of Surgeons of India (ASI), Medical Officers Association of ESIC, Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Indian Orthopedic Association (IOA), Indian Society of Anesthesiologists (ISA), and Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA).

All these major societies will liaise with their subspecialty associations so that the entire medical community will be involved in this important exercise.

It was reiterated that the patient is the focus, and as health professionals all effort should be made to ensure provision of quality, ethical, easily accessible and affordable care to all. This would include standardization of care with minimum levels as appropriate.

Communication to and with patients, and their relative and attendees was one area, which needed improvement. Unethical practices, like taking and giving of commissions etc. are not acceptable, and also are cause for increased cost of healthcare.

Recent awards of huge amounts as compensation for medical negligence have been making the news. Members noted that these verdicts have resulted in a huge increase in the number of cases filed against doctors, as well as a significant increase in the premiums paid to insurance companies. Unfortunately, this results in more expensive medical care, which is borne by the patient as is evident from the experience in US and other developed countries. In addition, hospitals and doctors are now reluctant to take on complicated cases for fear of medico-legal issues, and many have stopped practice. In India, this only adds to the already severe shortage of specialists. Again, it is the patient who suffers, deprived of adequate medical care of an acceptable standard. Another recognized factor for increased cost in these situations is practice of defensive medicine, an example of which is getting excessive investigations done by the clinician for fear of being questioned in the court of law.


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