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Doctors must strike stability between company and medical pursuits: CJI

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Unchecked corporatisation of the healthcare system is deepening inequities in entry to well being care, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana stated on Tuesday.

“Private hospitals are being opened at an exponential rate. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is a glaring need for balance. We are seeing hospitals being run like companies, where profit making is more important than service to society. Due to this, hospitals and doctors alike are desensitised towards the plight of patients. They are just numbers for them. This trend has also spread monopoly and is deepening the inequities in access to health care,” the CJI stated.

The CJI delivered the inaugural public oration on the National Academy of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.

“I understand that there are many doctors on the boards of various private hospitals, having the responsibility to balance corporate interest with medical interest. Now, with the increasing intervention of corporate boards, the individual autonomy of doctors is getting eroded,” the CJI added.

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On defending medical practitioners from frivolous litigation, the CJI stated that medical doctors should not be penalised if finest intentions and efforts have been made, regardless of the outcomes.

“It (the Supreme Court) clearly stated that there is a need for protecting doctors from frivolous or unjust prosecution. Over a period of time, this court has clearly stated that an error of judgment or an accident, is not a proof of negligence on the part of a medical professional. He or she would be liable only where their conduct fell below that of the standards of a reasonably competent practitioner in the field. However, these issues need to be adjudicated as per peculiar facts of each case. Doctors ought not to be penalised if best intentions and efforts were made, irrespective of the results. After all, doctors are humans too,” he stated.

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The CJI additionally stated that he “felt strongly” in regards to the assaults on medical doctors throughout the pandemic.

“Now, I must come to a topic that I feel strongly about. During the pandemic, I saw various instances where doctors had been threatened, abused, attacked, and shunned. Despite this, they continued working on the front lines. This negative response towards doctors is truly unfortunate. Several false cases are being lodged against upright and hardworking doctors. They need a better, and more secure, working environment. We must foster an environment where more young people want to become doctors to serve Indian society,” he stated.

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