The Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has requested the state government to widen its jurisdiction to allow it to hear cases of medical negligence against hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. It has sent the request to the Department of Medical Education. Currently, the MMC only hears cases of medical negligence against doctors. The proposal comes after the council came across a series of cases where it could not act against medical bodies due to limited jurisdiction.

In 2013, Mahad-based doctor Himmatrao Bawasker received a cheque from a major diagnostic chain asking him to refer patients to them for diagnostic tests in exchange for a ‘cut’ they would offer.

Bawasker filed a complaint with MMC, but the diagnostic chain approached the Bombay High Court claiming MMC only had legal right to conduct hearings against individual doctors, not companies. “The case stands unheard in the council despite there being evidence that a cheque was offered by the diagnostic chain to the doctor. The practice is unethical,” said Dr Shivkumar Utture, MMC president.

In its proposal, MMC has now asked the state to allow the quasi-judicial body to hear cases against entities found responsible of medical negligence or unethical practice. Under the MMC Act, the executive committee, comprising the president, vice-president, director of health services and director of Medical Education and Research, can only hear cases against doctors registered with it. The state council has 1.4 lakh doctors registered.

While the proposal is under consideration with the state government and has an in-principle nod, state government officials said the Maharashtra Medical Council Act, 1965, will need to be amended for which approval from the judiciary is necessary. Medical education secretary Sanjay Deshmukh said, “We will have to look into the proposal and recheck its status.”

Meanwhile, the MMC is also turning digital to provide information on all registered doctors on an online database. In a long-drawn exercise involving 11 lakh documents, 4.5 lakh have been uploaded. “These documents were kept at a godown in Mulund. Every time we wanted information on any registered doctor with council, we had to send a clerk from Chinchpokli to Mulund to access the file,” said an MMC official.

The MMC intends to upload cases heard by it after completion of the database on doctors.

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