Malpractice or Poor Judgement?
The practice of medicine has never claimed to be an exact science. In fact, it is very much a hit-and-miss situation. Taking into account these above factors, India seems to be on a destructive trend regarding their level of health care. Ever since private medical services fell under the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA) in April 1993, the number of malpractice suits filed against doctors has begun to soar. For example, in Kerala, approximately 1800 cases (15% of the total number of cases) have been filed. As Dr. Dipak Banerjee of the Indian Medical Association puts it: "It's degenerating into a kind of witch-hunt."
For years the community of doctors across India was immune to charges of malpractice, but the tide has begun to turn. Doctors are now having to dish out larger sums of money in order to insure themselves adequately. Insurance companies have caught on as well, raising the price of malpractice insurance on most doctors. For instance, a doctor who would have had to pay Rs. 125 annually now has to pay up to Rs. 1500. These costs will only be passed along to the patients in the long run, and the condition is only going to worsen. Take for example the United States, where surgeons annually pay an average of $75,000 on insurance premiums. On top of these premiums, doctors who practice very defensively add as much as $21 billion US to the health care bill every year. Twenty percent of the tests prescribed by doctors were not necessary, but they are the result of defensive practising by doctors who do not want to be held liable.
This condition, already appearing in India, could become the downfall of their present health care industry. Doctors are being forced to "look upon every patient as a potential litigant." There is likely going to be a tremendous rise in the cost of treatment as doctors begin this new wave of defensive practising, in which a series of expensive tests are carried out before any...
References: India Today, June 1993, p. 95 - 100
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