Foreign Doctors Operating in India
It has become quite common nowadays to have foreign surgeons operating on India patients during the course of a short visit or when they come to attend workshops. There are many horror stories about the results of such surgeries, when the surgeon has left and complications take place. It is unfortunate that some hospitals use the reputations of the foreign surgeons to entice patients into being operated, carefully shielding them from knowledge of the possible consequences.This issue has been discussed by one of the experts on the legal aspects of these surgeries and I think it is useful to read what he has to say about it. I am copying this form a Yahoo group communication sent to me, as I feel this is of general interest and needs to be better known.
What are the legal aspects of a foreign surgeon coming to India and perform surgery during camps and conferences?
QUESTION--What is the legal status of Foreign surgeon who come for camps and conferences and do surgery here? What will be their responsibility regarding complications/ misconduct? Should they take prior permission from MCI or local authority?
1—Nobody can treat a patient in India unless he is registered with the medical council here. The foreign surgeons need to take a special short time / temporary registration with the MCI. Operating without such permission would be illegal.
2—Foreigners should not venture illegally in their own interest. If they operate and a police complaint / FIR is registered against them for criminal negligence, they may have problem leaving the country and may even be arrested.
3—Hospitals sponsoring such surgery will be fully liable in law for compensation and also for criminal negligence for allowing an unlicenced person to operate and causing harm.
4—It is also possible, depending upon legal provisions, that a complaint alleging negligence may be made or referred to the foreign medical council where the surgeon is registered and the council may decide upon the complaint and take action against him.
5—If a hospital thinks that getting a patient operated by the foreign surgeon but not showing his name as the person conducting the surgery in the medical records will save the hospital or the surgeon from the requirements or consequences mentioned above, this is a fallacy. It would be deemed as fraudulent on the part of the hospital..
QUESTION--What are the legal aspects of a robotic surgery done upon a patient in India by a foreign surgeon sitting abroad in his chamber?
1—Since the patient is admitted in India in a hospital under the care of a surgeon who is present in the operation theatre to carry out: pre-operative management; intraoperative management including necessary surgery and coordination and assistance in collaboration with the foreign expert; and, post-operative management, the patient will be entitled to sue the hospital and the surgeon in India for compensation etc.
2—The consent should be obtained after giving necessary information to the patient about the name of the foreign surgeon and the nature of the surgery.
3—Necessary permission from the MCI should be taken because this would involve surgery in India by a doctor not registered with the MCI.
4—The hospital and the surgeon should be adequately covered by professional indemnity insurance.
17 October 2011
This was the opinion of Prof (Dr) M C Gupta, who is a Physician with a law degree and practices as a legal consultant
Perhaps organisers of workshops and patients who rush in at the sound of phoren should read this very carefully and ponder the consequences.