Medical Negligence in Pakistan
The understanding of medical negligence as a concept is rather hazy in our society. Medical negligence is an act or omission by a doctor in which the care provided was deviated from accepted standards of practice and caused injury or death to the patient. Medical Negligence comes under the category of tort law.
The standard judicial classification of negligence is seen in Blyth v Birmingham Co. (1856) where Alderson B stated that: “Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations which regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not.”
Medical Negligence litigation should seeks to compensate the injured and to serve as a deterrent, because in the absence of access to such litigations, the patients are at the mercy of medical professionals. The majority cases of malpractice or negligence usually involves a medical error, which is perhaps at the diagnosis level, medication dosage, health management, treatment or aftercare. Such omissions usually result due to negligence on part of the health care provider.
On a daily basis, several cases involving medical neglect on part of the practitioner are witnessed. By means of defective procedure techniques, leaving instruments in abdomen, amputating the wrong foot, administration of wrong vaccines, use of expired drugs, making wrong diagnosis and giving wrong treatment can lead to grave complications and have even resulted in deaths.
The media has played a pivotal role in exposing the existence of such malpractices. A number of cases lately have been registered in which an untrained medical practitioner administered erroneous amount of anaesthesia to man, leading to partial brain damage. Serious criticisms have been raised on the level of training of Pakistani doctors, especially in the public rural health sector.
Medical miscalculations have been an eminent problem in health care practices world wide. Irrespective whether it is a developed country like UK or a developing nation like Pakistan.
In Pakistan, there are diverse dynamics resulting in lack of medical negligence litigation.
Lack of awareness and knowledge among the general public about their health rights is at the lowest level. Even the educated class, are unaware of their very basic healthcare rights.
The weakest role in this regard has been played by the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC). Although the PMDC is sanctioned to take penalizing action against the healthcare practitioner for violating the code of ethics, professional negligence etc. Victimized patients having admittance to information and still find themselves twisted in the procedural requirements constructed by PMDC’s rules and regulations.
Another crucial issue which is pertinent to lays eyes on is that even where such complaints are being investigated by the PMDC, it is often alleged that such investigations are biased. The likelihood of a fair trial is minimal as inquiry committees compromise of doctors investigating doctors. Those enquiring into his illegal behavior are his own fellow colleagues.
Another key issue for lack of medical negligence litigation is, that the legal framework of Pakistan does not explicitly support the no encouragement medical negligent cases to be brought to courts.
Under such gloomy state of affairs, the Government of Pakistan should enact legislation in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) standard guidelines.
It is by all means humanly impossible to develop a health care system where there are no errors and negligence. Human beings are not perfect and we are bound to cause some sort of errors. There is a need to expound a system where the medical negligence issues and error can be recognized and the accused can be identified, condemned and penalized. law.
Medical litigation is considered to be an expensive, time consuming and complex procedure requires highly professional skills.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which she might be associated.