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Feature

India’s struggle with medical malpractice

BMJ 2023; 381 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.p632 (Published 03 April 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;381:p632
  1. Kamala Thiagarajan, freelance journalist
  1. Tamil Nadu, India
  1. kamala.thiagarajan{at}gmail.com

With awareness of patients’ rights growing, a rise in medical malpractice has put India’s medical regulators on alert, as grieving patients and campaigners say finding justice is an ordeal. Kamala Thiagarajan reports

On 10 May 2022, Amit Kataria, a 22 year old music student, visited his mother, who lived in Gurugram, a city near New Delhi in northern India. While driving the car into the underground parking area of his mother’s apartment, Kataria lost control and crashed into a wall, his chest ramming into the steering wheel. With a rapidly swelling face and struggling to breathe, he was rushed to an emergency department of Artemis Hospital in Gurugram. The doctors intubated him, but instead of checking whether there was a direct injury to his lungs, they put him on a ventilator, the family claims. Within minutes of being put on a ventilator, his lungs collapsed completely and Amit died.

For months, even as he struggled to cope with the loss of his son, Amit’s father, Atul Kataria, believed that something was amiss. Hospital authorities couldn’t explain why they hadn’t followed emergency protocol in his son’s case; nor could they explain why they hadn’t taken a chest radiograph on admission, a fairly standard procedure to assess the extent of injuries. (Artemis Hospital did not respond to The BMJ’s requests for comment.)

CCTV footage of the emergency departments was not shared, in spite of Kataria’s repeated requests, and no one could tell him what went wrong, he tells The BMJ. “They put him on a ventilator without ascertaining why the blood kept pooling in his lungs. They were negligent and it led to the untimely death of my son,” he says. Later, he registered a complaint with the local medical council and a first investigation report with the police.

Kataria, who …

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