October 08, 04, Asian age

By Soumitra Nandy

Kolkata, Oct 7: Concerned over the fact that only a few can avail of prompt medical attention in accidents, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) has initiated a nation-wide campaign to sensitise people that medical institutions by law cannot deny any emergency case.

Soumi Home Roy, researcher at CUTS stated “In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of immediate medical attention for any accident victim, failure of which violates “Right to Life,” as guaranteed under Article 21. The judgement also noted that in such cases, the police must not harass the doctor for investigation.”

Subsequently, in 1994, Section 134 was added to the Motor Vehicle’s Act (1988) to cover this exigency of providing immediate medical treatment and succour to accident victims. Under this section, a driver involved in any accident is required to secure medical aid for the injured person, by taking him to the nearest hospital/doctor and it shall be the duty of the hospital/doctor to render medical aid to the victim without waiting for completion of legal formalities. Failure in this regard is punishable under Section 187 of MV Act, 1988.

Ms Roy lamented the ignorance of these rules. She stated “medical handling of crash victims in India is far from satisfactory. The time taken between the accident and reaching the hospital is critical, but the procedural wrangles and public fear of getting involved in a police case delay crucial help.

Additionally, the police and the medical institutions often give priority to completion of medico-legal formalities over treatment, which results in death or permanent disability of many victims. Many medical institutions also deny emergency cases by giving lame excuses, such as non-availability of beds.” In India, a road accident casualty takes place every 12 minutes and 10 times the number get injured, she briefed.

To strengthen the awareness drive, CUTS has written to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), and DG police of all the states.