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New Delhi (India), June 27: The suicide of a gynaecologist Dr. Archana Sharma in Rajasthan earlier this year shook the conscience of not only the medical fraternity but of the entire nation. Charged with a case of murder (instead of medical negligence) and unaware of her legal rights, Dr. Sharma took this extreme step after an FIR was lodged against her to avoid harassment from the police and others.
The incident, as usual, created quite uproar for some time, especially among the medical fraternity but failed to take any firm steps to avoid a repeat of the same. Most doctors across the nation are unaware of the relevant laws, especially the unique protection provided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in criminal cases.
The Institute of Medicine and Law (IML) launched the Dr. Archana Sharma MedLegal HelpDesk service on 8th May 2022, together with a few national medical societies, to address this important issue. The helpdesk aims to provide legal aid and advice to healthcare professionals threatened with criminal action by the police. It will also educate doctors about their legal rights in such cases. IML will also train volunteers (doctors) under the ‘Train-The-Trainer’ program who could, in turn, conduct more training sessions and awareness programs among their peers. The institute is offering all these services free of cost as a tribute to this country’s honest & hard-working medical fraternity. IML has also urged other medical societies, pharma companies, media, and organizations, especially from the healthcare industry, to come forward and be a part of this initiative.
HiDoc Dr., the country’s number one doctors’ networking platform, has joined hands with IML for this noble cause. “We welcome and support the great initiative of the MedLegal Helpdesk. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of the laws and the legal protection they are eligible for. In 2005, the Supreme Court, in the landmark judgment in Jacob Mathews v/s State of Punjab, had provided specific protection to doctors in criminal proceedings, irrespective of whether they are initiated in the police station or courts,” says Varun Gadia, COO, HiDoc Dr. “The medical fraternity has always been in the forefront serving and caring for people. Yet, they are also the ones to face the ruthless side. We strive for the betterment of this community and will stand by any initiative that safeguards the rights of our doctors,” he adds.
The Dr. Archana Sharma MedLegal HelpDesk aims to tackle this issue in three ways:
- Legal Aid and Service
Lawyers from the Supreme Court shall offer advice and consultation to doctors facing criminal actions. They may also speak to the police if needed. The legal team would immediately reach out to the aggrieved doctor to ensure minimum harassment.
The lawyers would also help the aggrieved doctors in filing a ‘contempt petition’ before the Supreme Court in cases where the police action is contrary to or inconsistent with the directions given in the Jacob Mathews case.
- Webinars for Medical Societies/Hospitals/Medical Colleges/Doctors’ Groups
To create awareness and educate the doctors about the concerned law, IML will organize webinars in medical societies, hospitals, medical colleges, or other doctors’ groups.
- Doctor-Volunteers (Train-the-trainer)
IML will train volunteer doctors who would, in turn, spread awareness through training sessions amongst their peers. IML would provide content, judgments, slide decks, commonly asked questions, and other reference material on this subject. Every effort will be made to keep the trainers updated on the changes in law, judgments, and relevant information.
As an esteemed partner, Hidoc Dr. will be providing all the above services on its platform to its huge network of healthcare professionals. The company plans to start with the webinars and would also be appointing a contact person with a dedicated number who can be called by any aggrieved doctor threatened with police action. HiDoc Dr. would also conduct training sessions for the healthcare professionals under the train-the-trainer program.
One can avail of any of these services by sending a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on the toll-free number – 1800-202-5091
For more details, visit https://legalhelpdesk.hidoc.co
We at HiDoc Dr. are proud to be associated with The Dr. Archana Sharma MedLegal HelpDesk and stand by our community today and always.
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