Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 21-27

Progress in Medicine: Compensation and medical negligence in India: Does the system need a quick fix or an overhaul?

1 Graduate Student, Irving B Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
2 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Suresh Bada Math
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.192887

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In a recent judgment on medical negligence, the Supreme Court awarded compensation amounting to Rs. 11 crore to a victim, which was to be paid by the doctors and the private hospital deemed responsible for the wrongful death of a patient. This landmark decision was by far the largest compensation award in the history of Indian medical negligence litigation. Hence, the process of calculating compensation for medical negligence has received great attention and debate, largely due to the impact that it is going to have on the practice of medicine within the country, in the near future. However, the method of calculation of compensation is unpredictable as it varies hugely across different cases, courts and tribunals resulting, in a loss of faith in the system, protracted litigation, and frequent appeals. With over 80% of India's healthcare being provided by the private sector, predictability and uniformity in the regulation of compensation in medical negligence would benefit the victims and the doctors concerned. A basic knowledge of how medical negligence compensation is calculated and adjudicated in the judicial courts of India will aid a doctor in planning his/her professional indemnity insurance, as well as in practicing his/her profession without undue worry about facing litigation for alleged medical negligence. This article addresses the merits and demerits of large compensation awards, and also discusses whether the system is broken, needs a quick fix, or a massive overhaul.

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