Several medical practitioners on Tuesday took out a procession, urging the judicial machinery to form a panel to probe into cases of medical negligence.
The doctors were protesting against the arrest and harassment of a well-known septuagenarian doctor, who was arrested under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Conal (intent to outrage the modesty of a woman). The doctor was arrested after the 21-year-old woman complained that the doctor had allegedly touched her inappropriately on the pretext of physical examination.
Police arrested the doctor, who was remanded to judicial custody for 10 days. The accused is currently on bail from the High Court. Doctors who took part in the procession said that amendment of Section 354 by the Centre was the need of the hour for maintaining a healthy relationship with the patients and the society.
The doctors said there are cases where apart from clinical reports, physical examinations are required to find out the real cause of the disease. They alleged that the police, without understanding the ground reality, had arrested the doctor whose acumen, integrity and knowledge is well-known in the medical circles. “He is our teacher and has unquestionable integrity,” said a city-based doctor in the procession.
Dr Shantanu Sen, president of the Bengal chapter of Indian Medical Association, that the statement given by the complainant was inconsistent and alleged that the police had arrested the doctor without verifying it. Dr Subhankar Chowdhury said that the doctors’ community is feeling “traumatised and threatened.”
Another participant in the procession, Dr Arun Manglik said: “We are been caught between the devil and deep sea. If you do not treat a patient, then we are accused of being negligent. And if we do a physical examination, then there is the risk of being charged with molestation. Under such a situation should we stop attending patients?”
The doctors claimed that the recent trend was to attack doctors and paramedical staff, particularly in state-run hospitals and nursing homes in case of death of patients. They felt that there should be awareness campaigns on doctor-patient relationship.