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Life hits a low in list of priorities

Cases  of medical negligence are by far the most serious kind of consumer woes and unfortunately they are becoming increasingly common. There have been cases of people losing their ability to hear or speak, or those who have lost their lives owing to medical neglignce. In a recent such case that came up in Mumbai and that dates back to June 1993, Delhi-based Devinder Singh Gupta consulted an eye surgeon Vivek Pal for a problem in his left eye. The doctor diagnosed it as an ‘innocuous growth’ and advised its removal through what he said would be a minor surgery. Pal assured the patient that he would regain normal use of the eye in five days. After the surgery was conducted at the doctor’s clinic, Gupta was prescribed medicine for local application along with oral medication. Soon after however, he felt pain and irritation in the left eye, which also turned red.

When Gupta returned to the doctor, he was first advised to continue with the medicine meant for local application, though the medicine was later changed. But Gupta’s condition worsened, finally leading to loss of vision.

When such people approach the consumer court for redressal, in most cases they are not really motivated by possible monetary compensation. They are just seeking accountability from those they had trusted with their lives, and who through utter carelessness had led to such irrevocable damage.

It’s ironical, that the profession of medicine was once considered to be one of the most noble. Doctors were respected because they believed in serving ‘humanity’, irrespective of their personal motives and interests. Today, it seems, ‘human life’ has become of least importance. Due to the materialistic approach of doctors, this noble profession has now become one of the most corrupt, where doctors are playing with lives with little regard for it.

The instances of medical negligence may or may not culminate into something as drastic as losing life. But even when they don’t, the gravity of such cases is in no way mitigated. And unfortunately such cases are by no means rare. Some of the most well-known and proportionately expensive hospitals/doctors figure in the list of those most frequentlynegligent.  As more and more medical negligence cases come pouring in at consumer forums across the country, the common man is left with a sinking feeling that he is fighting a lost cause. But one should not give up. It is a fight worth fighting, for what is at stake is irreplaceable

All is not lost. In this particular case as well, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held out hope by holding the doctor guilty of ‘limited medical negligence’ for verbally advising, instead of prescribing in writing, the use of eye drops to a patient who lost his vision following its prolonged application. Doctors need to be made accountable and this will happen only when anyone who has suffered because of their negligence brings it to the notice of consumer forums.
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