Medicolegal problems are all very well known to each of the doctors today, but it was in 1992 that Dr Subhash Behere sensed need of a definite separate cell for IMA Pune members to help doctors in their legal need and crises. He had finished his term as a President of IMA Pune and was the then Secretary of IMA Maharashtra State and Dr Jayant Navarange had just taken over as a President. Dr. Anand Gokhale, our visionary ex-president strongly supported the concept of starting a ML cell and all Managing Committee members also were enthusiastic. Doctors were increasingly receiving notices from lawyers and police were using long handle against doctors. If I remember right, around that time, an orthopedic surgeon was handcuffed and arrested for a death following head injury in an road accident. Similarly, several reports of arrests in anesthesia table death, death during normal delivery, death of an old, 95 year lady etc were in the news. Consumer Act was passed in 1986, but then it was not applied to doctors yet. Doctors were facing tough competition from quacks and when we asked, our members flooded the names and addresses of over 2600 quacks, which we informed to Police Commissioner. â€“and so on. In fact, even today, problems are the same, with increasing numbers, increasing intensity and more complexities.
With aggressive consumerism, hostile media (where every good success is related to TRP only), and information explosion (internet) and with the advent of Consumer Act with compassionate tilt to patients by judiciary and so called NGOs, doctors are in a thick jungle of litigations. They put a lot of stress on doctors of any ageâ€”no one is exempt. I know of 2 senior consultants who got massive MI following litigation and succumbing, 1 got hemiplegia, 3 have become hypertensive, 1 took to heavy smoking (luckily he won the case and is addiction free) and 2 went in matrimonial discordance. Tension and depression is routine. Some become timid to practice and some have stopped also. In short, this stress is too much compared to stress of finances and practice and knowledge of medicine. And this is precisely where IMA Pune established the ML cell 25years back.
Dr Behere, Dr Jayant Navarange, Dr Sanjay Gupte and Dr Mahesh Tulpule who joined later attended to phone calls from members to help them. The advice was from trivial matters like certificates and death certification,, post mortem issues etc to compensation claims of 6 crores and in criminal cases arrest warrants and manhandling and damaging clinic/hospital premises. Pune Municipal issues for hospitals, MSEB tariff issues, human rights notices, information act notices, and problems of tubectomy deaths, MTPs and lately, PCPNDT cases were effectively tackled. So far, more than 2350 advices have been given with positive results. Many times we have acted proactively. We have also helped in giving detailed replies to accusations (Written statements = ws) and representing inconsumer forums, meeting Police Commissioners and some times concerned political leaders and ministers and so on. On an average, today, we get 1 fresh ML case per week and at least 1 phone call for advice per day. We have authentically given statements in media and press relies in us as well as what each of doctors in Pune and Maharashtra and beyond relies in our Cell. We get call at any time of day and night and from all over the country including Meghalaya and Kashmir, Surat, Dibrugarh, Bangaluru etc. Practically, all this was done free and gratuitously. But of late we have started charging some token amount to raise funds for IMA and this activity, after we realized hard way that free advice is sometimes taken lightly and misused. Follow up is also poor if free advice is given.
Dr Behere, Dr Jayant Navarange, Dr Sanjay Gupte and Dr Mahesh Tulpule who joined later attended to phone calls from members to help them. The advice was from trivial matters like certificates and death certification,, post mortem issues etc to compensation claims of 6 crores and in criminal cases arrest warrants and manhandling and damaging clinic/hospital premises. Pune Municipal issues for hospitals, MSEB tariff issues, human rights notices, information act notices, and problems of tubectomy deaths, MTPs and lately, The ML cell has completed Silver Jubilee this year and I thought it prudent to write about our achievements. We maintain top level secrecy and confidentiality and integrity and our advice is appreciated and approved even at Supreme Court level. Members have developed such trust in our ML Office bearers that they freely confide in us and take and implement our advice faithfully in Wills, HUF partitions, property matters, Trust and Partnership deeds, divorce matters, end of life situations and so on. A lot many educative programs are done by this cell at local, state and national level and even among law students in their colleges. Regular lectures with latest information and case laws, references from all across world, power point presentations, workshops and panel discussions and publication of 2 work books are the means to spread knowledge. Preparation of various consent forms, certificates etc is also our baby!
In this silver jubilee year, we are now meeting over high tea every 15 days on Monday mornings strictly at 8.15 am and leave by 9,45 am. A lot of discussions of update in medicolegal matters as well as other allied ethics and finance issues take place. At least 4 cases are discussed. We are around 20 doctors and 1 lawyer at any given meeting and young doctors have added to our enthusiasm and broadened vision and expectations. We have started google group email@example.com to enhance communication between members. Dr. Jayant Navarange, Chairman, IMA ML Cell, 9890206303 firstname.lastname@example.org