Patients suffer due to loophole in Medical Act
gurvinder singh
KOLKATA, 25 JUNE: A century-old Act has turned into a liability for the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) and a cause of agony for hapless people demanding justice against wrong or negligent treatment by doctors.
The law in question is the Bengal Medical Act,1914 that doesn’t make registration with the state medical council mandatory for doctors coming from other states to practice here.
The result: Several hundreds of doctors engaged with private hospitals in the city fill up their pockets, but escape scot-free when the patient party accuses them of incorrect diagnosis.
"We receive substantial complaints of negligent treatment every month against the doctors but are unable to act against the non-members," said Dr D K Ghosh, Registrar of the council. 
"The time has come when the century-old rule needs to be amended as the delay would only add to the sufferings of the people,” he added.
"A doctor registered under Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 can practise anywhere in the country, but the Bengal Act, if amended, would help to keep a check on the medicos at the local level practising in the various states of the country,” added a senior office-bearer with the state council. “A few states such as Karnataka, Tripura and Maharashtra have made the registrations with the state councils mandatory, for the outsiders, but others are yet to do so," Dr Ghosh added.
"The fear of getting caught on account of negligence makes the doctor reluctant to come under the umbrella of the state medical council," said another senior officer on request of anonymity.
The state council also wants an amendment to the membership clauses.  
There are around 40,000 live members registered with the council, but most of them do not renew their qualification status which makes it difficult to determine the exact number of specialists in the various health streams in the state.  
The teachers in government medical colleges need to inform the council about the changes in educational qualification but the government doctors do not bother to do so, said the registrar. 
"We want the doctors to inform about their recent qualifications, say after every three or five years, to the council," he added. 
The council plans to write to the government seeking the amendments after the polls of the state medical council gets over. 
"The amendments if done would make the doctors, especially the private practitioners answerable to the people and help the victims get justice, he added.