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Govt proposes amendment to NMC Act : Govt draft seeks to let patients appeal

New Delhi : In a move that could open another legal worry for the doctors, the centre has proposed to amend the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act 2019. If approved, the amendment would allow patients and their relatives to approach the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) or the NMC against the decision of the State Medical Council in complaints related to medical negligence.Till now, appeals of only doctors who were found guilty of medical negligence by the EMRB were taken up by the NMC and would overlook similar claims made by patients or their families. This was despite a Supreme Court ruling favoring patients’ appeals. 

The proposal said, “to provide provision for patients/their relatives/complainant to prefer an appeal in the Ethics and Medical Registration Board/National Medical Commission against the decision/action of the State Medical Council in complaints related to medical negligence/professional misconduct.” The suggestions/comments/objections may be forwarded within 30 days from the date of issue of this notice, it said.Welcoming the decision of the union health ministry, Kerala-based RTI activist Dr K V Babu, an ophthalmologist, said, “it has been a longstanding request of patients’ rights groups and activists.”

According to the NMC Act 2019, medical professionals can appeal against decisions of State Medical Councils (SMC) under Section 30(3) if they are held guilty of medical negligence. If the EMRB, which regulates professional conduct and promotes medical ethics in the country, finds their act punishable, medical practitioners can make a second appeal under 30 (4) of the NMC Act.