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   Table of Contents      
COMMENTARY
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 10  |  Page : 1526-1527

Commentary: Medico legal aspects in ophthalmology in India


Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication23-Sep-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Atul Kumar
Retina Services, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi - 110 029
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1510_19

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How to cite this article:
Agarwal D, Kumar A, Sundar D. Commentary: Medico legal aspects in ophthalmology in India. Indian J Ophthalmol 2019;67:1526-7

How to cite this URL:
Agarwal D, Kumar A, Sundar D. Commentary: Medico legal aspects in ophthalmology in India. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Oct 21];67:1526-7. Available from: http://www.ijo.in/text.asp?2019/67/10/1526/267387



Every ophthalmologist must be aware of the legal aspects of practising medicine and vice-versa. Lawsuits usually address medical negligence, inappropriate diagnosis, and treatment.[1] They are usually directed at compensation due to suffering arising out of medical negligence, jeopardized consent, and breach of confidentiality of doctor-patient relationship. Main reasons for the rising number of litigations are greater awareness among patients, increasing costs of healthcare resulting in high expectations and easy processing of cases in consumer courts as compared to civil courts in India. Complaints can be made to consumer courts, civil courts, criminal courts (in cases of criminal negligence) or Medical Council of India.

In various countries including India, cataract and corneal surgeries account for majority of the claims filed in courts.[2],[3],[4] The proportion of retina related malpractice claims is less even though retinal diseases may have a poor prognosis and outcomes.[5] In India, there is a growing number of court cases related to retinopathy of prematurity either due to delay in screening, treatment or referral resulting in huge compensations up to 1.8 crore rupees.[6] The litigations involve private as well as government setups, NGOs or charitable hospitals.

One must be aware of the existing laws before starting practice. Previously, the Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994 mandated that cornea retrieval was to be done by a registered medical practitioner and strict criteria for transplantation centers were set. Recent amendment in 2014 states cornea to be a tissue and not to be treated as an organ, which has authorized trained technicians to harvest it. Consent for donation has been extended to include more relatives.[7] One must also aim to enhance the quality of health care services. The Clinical Establishments Act draft proposes minimum standards for different health setups. Rules regarding biomedical waste management also need to be followed. One can apply for accreditation of eye hospitals under the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Health Care Providers (NABH) in India. Off-label drugs should be prescribed in accordance with guidelines issued by the Drug Controller General of India. Proper consent should be obtained from the patient clearly explaining the “off label” indication of drugs whenever such situations arise, but its legality remains disputed in India.

Permanent privation of sight of either eye has been termed as grievous injury, which makes it a punishable offence under IPC section 320. The medico legal report and expert opinion of the ophthalmologist form the basis of evidence in such cases. It should be clear, detailed, accurate, and objective.[8] It is imperative for a medical establishment to inform police whenever such cases come for treatment.

The present article has comprehensively described the various medico legal issues faced by ophthalmologists in India.[9] Potential areas of vigilance include appropriate patient workup, OT sterilization, anesthesia, and emergency resuscitation setup. Preventive steps can be taken at four levels to avoid professional liability cases. Primary prevention protects against a complaint being filed. Second level would protect the doctor from being held negligent. Tertiary level protects against direct financial consequences in cases of compensation like indemnity insurance policies. Last level protects against the professional and psychological stresses of litigation.[10] Proper case selection, effective patient communication, standardized medical care, and clear documentation remain the key to avoid litigations.



 
  References Top

1.
Gundogmus UN, Erdogan MS, Sehiralti M, Kurtas O. A descriptive study of medical malpractice cases in Turkey. Ann Saudi Med 2005;25:404-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
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2.
Thompson AC, Parikh PD, Lad EM. Review of ophthalmology medical professional liability claims in the United States from 2006 through 2015. Ophthalmology 2018;125:631-41.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Özdemir MH, Can IÖ, Koçak N. Malpractice claims in ophthalmology: A 10-year review. Turk J Ophthalmol 2014;44:1-5.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Yadav M, Bansal MK, Garg P. Ophthalmology medical negligence cases decided by NCDRC: Retrospective study. Indian Internet J Forensic Med Toxicol 2018;16:59-63.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Laurenti K, Weber P, Kim JE. Medical malpractice claims resulting from retinal conditions and procedures: A 10-year review. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2014;55:687.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Vinekar A, Azad R, Dogra MR, Narendran V, Jalali S, Bende P. The Indian retinopathy of prematurity society: A baby step towards tackling the retinopathy of prematurity epidemic in India. Ann Eye Sci 2017 May 6;2(6).  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Tandon R, Singh A, Gupta N, Vanathi M, Gupta V. Upgradation and modernization of eye banking services: Integrating tradition with innovative policies and current best practices. Indian J Ophthalmol 2017;65:109-15.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
8.
Tripathy K, Chawla R, Venkatesh P, Vohra R, Sharma YR. Clinical profile of medicolegal cases presenting to the eye casualty in a tertiary care center in India. Indian J Ophthalmol 2016;64:422-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
9.
Nagpal N, Nagpal N. When the ophthalmologists turn blind. Indian J Ophthalmol 2019;67:1520-3.  Back to cited text no. 9
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10.
Awati AM, Mudda V. Professional liability in medical practice: A 20 years retrospective study at District Consumers' forum Gulbarga (1991-2011). J Dr NTR Univ Health Sci 2014;3:15.  Back to cited text no. 10
    




 

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