Medical Negligence in Bangladesh: Current Reality and Law Procedure

Repoter : News Room
Published: 27 February, 2024 5:20 pm

Salma Aktar Priyo (Pori): In Bangladesh, negligence in healthcare creates significant challenges for patient safety and healthcare quality. This composition analyzes legal responses to medical negligence under statutes and other legal precautions. It addresses various challenges associated with medical negligence and proposes solutions to this important issue.

The Penal Code of Bangladesh, 1860 incorporates section 304A which includes medical negligence leading to the death or injury of patients. Section 304A encompasses negligence in medical care resulting in death or serious injury, such as endangering life and causing grievous harm due to negligence. However, the Medical Practice and Private Clinics Regulation Act, 2009 categorizes patients and healthcare providers, enabling legal measures for medical negligence.

Section 304A of the Penal Code establishes provisions for penalties against healthcare providers for medical negligence resulting in patient death. Moreover, under the Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009 Caregivers can be held accountable for dissatisfaction related to compensation and damage in the management of patients. These laws support healthcare service accountability and negligence prevention as integral aspects of healthcare legislation. Section 53 of the law specifically addresses medical negligence, providing constitutional remedies for patient rights violations, as both patients and healthcare establishments are considered service providers under the law. However, the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) Act,2010 Empowers BMDC to hold responsibility for damages due to medical negligence, emphasizing its authority over healthcare accountability and enhancing healthcare quality in the medical profession.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Bangladesh faces a critical shortage of doctors relative to its population, with only 5.25 doctors per 10,000 people. These shortages contribute to overcrowding in hospitals, where doctors struggle to provide adequate care and attention to each patient, leading to more prevalent medical errors and malpractice incidents, exacerbating the severity of outcomes for patients and their families. The current legal framework faces significant challenges, particularly in ensuring sufficient evidence for medical negligence cases. However, streamlining administrative processes is necessary to establish accountability among healthcare professionals and ensure timely justice for quality healthcare delivery.

Rahib Reza, aged 32, was an employee in the private sector. He underwent an Endoscopy at LabAid Hospital due to gas-related issues, where he was pronounced dead. The doctors did not demand any money from his family for treatment. However, it was later revealed that the doctors did not properly verify his health examination report and administered the wrong anesthesia dosage, resulting in his death. Similarly, a few days ago, a child named Ayham died due to medical malpractice during circumcision because of an incorrect anesthesia dosage. Subsequent investigations by the Bangladesh Anesthesia Society revealed that Ayham’s death occurred due to the incorrect administration of anesthesia.

There is no accurate calculation of the mortality rate due to medical negligence in Bangladesh. However, various studies have shown dissatisfaction among patients due to low levels of care and disease control. According to a study by the research institution Frontiers in Switzerland, the satisfaction rate of healthcare consumers is 65 percent. Of these, 51 percent are satisfied with government facilities and 75 percent with private facilities. Dissatisfaction among hospital staff has been reported in 35 percent of cases. Similarly, 33 percent expressed dissatisfaction with doctor services, 37 percent with general services, and 42 percent with the families of patients expressing dissatisfaction.

In conclusion, medical negligence in Bangladesh is a deep-rooted issue with multifaceted problems affecting legal, ethical, and procedural aspects. Effectively implementing existing legal provisions, extensive reforms, and initiatives for patient safety can enable Bangladesh to effectively combat medical negligence and ensure quality healthcare services for all citizens.

Writer is a Student Department of Law, World University of Bangladesh.