Over the past three years, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has found only one doctor guilty of medical negligence, as per its response to a Right to Information (RTI) request submitted by Dr. KV Babu, an ophthalmologist based in Kannur.
The NMC also revealed that between September 25, 2019, and September 30, 2022, it received a total of four second appeals from doctors contesting decisions made by the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB). Out of these appeals, the NMC determined only one doctor to be guilty, while the rest were rejected due to inconsistencies with the provisions of the NMC Act of 2019.
It is worth noting that under the current system, only medical professionals have the right to appeal against actions taken by State Medical Councils before the NMC. Previously, patients and other individuals had the option to file complaints against doctors with the NMC, but this privilege is now limited to members of the medical community.
In the case of appeals filed by the families of patients, the NMC cited Section 30(3) of the NMC Act 2019, which specifies that only medical practitioners or professionals who are dissatisfied with actions taken by a State Medical Council can appeal before the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) of the top medical regulatory body. Section 30(3) reads, “(3) A medical practitioner or professional who is aggrieved by any action taken by a State Medical Council under sub-section (2) may prefer an appeal to the Ethics and Medical Registration Board against such action, and the decision, if any, of the Ethics and Medical Registration Board thereupon shall be binding on the State Medical Council unless a second appeal is preferred under sub-section (4).”
Patients are only allowed to appeal under Sections 8.7 and 8.8 of the MCI’s Ethics Regulations, 2002. In a previous response to an RTI application, the NMC confirmed that it had rejected 25 appeals from family members of patients and other non-medical individuals between September 25, 2020, and March 25, 2022.
Therefore, according to the NMC Act, the Commission will only consider appeals submitted by medical professionals. Earlier this year, Dr. KV Babu filed an RTI request seeking information on the total number of appeals made to the EMRB between September 25, 2019, and September 30, 2022, the number of doctors penalized during that period, the number of second appeals filed by doctors, the number of second appeals upheld by the NMC, and the number of appeals by non-Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) rejected by the EMRB.
In response to these queries, the NMC clarified on November 15, 2022, that “till date, 04 second appeals have been received in NMC against decisions of EMRB, and all 04 have been disposed of. In one case, the decision of EMRB was upheld, while the remaining three were rejected for being inconsistent with provisions of NMC Act, 2019.”