Medical Negligence in Bangladesh: Lack of Legal Protection of the Victims -Jannatul Ferdous Sayma


Medical negligence, however, refers to the negligence of a physician. It mainly involves nurses, hospital authorities, technicians, diagnostic centers, drug supply and overall mismanagement. In the Covid-19 pandemic, there are constant allegations of patient deaths due to medical negligence. And Doctors are showing manpower crisis and various excuses.  Malpractice is a humanitarian crime in any country. In any case, if you want to accuse someone of medical negligence, you must first prove that there was an agreement between the patient and the medical provider that the physician or medical provider had a legal obligation to take proper care of the patient.  The second reason is if the physician or medical provider neglects or fails to perform that duty. Thirdly, if the patient suffers loss or death due to failure to perform the duty.
Considering these circumstances, what is the remedy in the law? According to the constitution of Bangladesh, medical service is one of the basic needs of the citizens of the state, but at present there is extreme anarchy in the medical service system. Although there is no separate law on medical negligence, it is possible to prosecute such offenses under different sections of the Penal Code.
Also there is a law called the Medical Practice and Private Clinics and Laboratories (Regulation) Ordinance 1982.  In this case, matters relating to the private practice of doctors and the establishment and operation of private clinics are to be governed by this Act.  According to this law, a registrar doctor engaged in government service cannot engage in private practice in any private hospital, private clinic or nursing home during office hours.  And if so, appropriate action can be taken against him.  But it is often heard that government doctors are busy providing services in private hospitals instead of going to government hospitals. They are not available at the hospital during duty or they are absent if posted in urban cities or villages. The main reasons for this are inadequate legal system, viewing medicine as a business instead of a service, lack of accountability.
Every year a large budget is passed in the health sector of the government. Doctors’ interests are being protected, but how much is the improvement of medical services?  Doctors only go to government offices for only their attendance, all the rest is private practice and the competition is now on how much money they can earn commercially. The main reason for this is that there is no accountability anywhere. So much comfort, money, influence seems to have fascinated the doctors. In addition, subordinates also take advantage. As a result, huge sums of money are going abroad due to this negligence.
Although the technical standards of post-independence treatment have been improved a lot, but doctors are lagging behind. Due to their negligence, huge sums of money of the country are going abroad.
Medical negligence falls into the category of both civil and criminal offenses at the same time. Among these, harassment, defamation, false temptation and compensation can be filed for medical negligence in civil cases. But the reality of our country is different, no one goes to a government hospital except the lower middle class or low income people unless they think it absolutely necessary. And patients in government hospitals are the ones who suffer the most. Most of the time patients are treated inhumanely in government hospitals, they are not given due importance and many times patients are seen dying on the verandah of the hospital without getting seats.
Again, there is another kind of corruption in private hospitals or clinics. There is an additional visit fee from the doctor, additional tests are required, unnecessary medication is advised and the sick people are taken hostage in various trades. The police turn a healthy person into a sick person through their services.
On the other hand, due to the negligence of the doctors of the medical hospital, a person has to leave the world forever. Our question to the government on behalf of the conscious people, how long will this game with human life last?
After all, the speedy implementation of the Health Protection Act to prevent medical negligence and to ensure the legal protection of both patients and physicians is a matter of time and I would like to ask the doctors, can the negligence in the name of medical services continue in the country? Highly educated meritorious children of the country, serve the masses without falling into the trap of morality, take the country forward in this crisis – that is the expectation of all.

Jannatul Ferdous Sayma is a student of the Department of Law, University of Chittagong.