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Senior doctors avoid sensitive medico-legal cases to sidestep court appearances

Despite a 100-page detailed guideline in medico-legal cases for survivor/victim of sexual violence, many senior doctors ignore the protocol.

bhopal Updated: Nov 11, 2017 19:37 IST
Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar
Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Doctors,Medical examination,PG students
In the gang rape case of a 19-year-old UPSC aspirant, the medical report was filed by two inexperienced post-graduate students.(Representative image)

Medical examination of victims in sensitive medico-legal cases were being routinely done by inexperienced PG students and several doctors Hindustan Times spoke to said they did this to avoid being called to the court to give evidence at a later stage.

“Senior doctors avoid writing the medical report in sensitive medico-legal cases because invariably when these cases come up in court the defense lawyer cross-examines the doctor who writes the medical report. Doctors consider going to court to give evidence in a case a waste of time, so they make the PG students, who cannot refuse the senior doctors, do the work,” a practicing gynaecologist said on condition of anonymity.

“Ideally, what is being written should be seen by the senior doctors, but they often do not, leading to goof-ups similar to what happened in the gang-rape case” the doctor said,

The admission by superintendent of Bhopal’s Hamidia Zanana Hospital, Dr Karan Pipre that medical examination of victims in sensitive medico-legal cases were being routinely done by inexperienced PG students, was shocking enough. But the two PG students who botched up a medical report of a rape victim now seems to have been a blooper that was waiting to happen.

The two inexperienced PG students were given the task of preparing the medical report in the sensitive gang rape case of a 19-year old UPSC aspirant, which they had badly botched up, leading to wide-spread condemnation.

Former director, medico-legal institute, Dr D S Badkul says it is ‘ethically wrong’ on part of senior doctors to make PG students write the medical reports in sensitive medico-legal cases.

“A senior gyneacologist should be performing the examination and the PG students should be assisting him. Same is the case when it comes to writing the report. It should be done by the senior doctor.”

Dr Badkul pointed out that there is a 100- page detailed guideline and protocol issued by the Union ministry of health and family welfare that should be followed in “Medico-Legal cases for survivor/victim of sexual violence”.

“But no one follows it. The work of the doctor is not to judge whether sex was consensual or not, but find evidence of rape,” Dr Badkul said, referring to the medical report prepared of the gang-rape victim in which the two inexperienced PG students had written that “sex was consensual”.

Dr Pipre had also told Hindustan Times that from now on only senior doctors would do medical report in serious cases. “We have issued an order that from now only senior doctors would do medico-legal cases and also issued a show-cause notice.” He refused to comment on whether senior doctors purposely avoid sensitive cases to stay away from court hearings.

Talking about the importance of medical report in rape cases, advocate Rekha Shrivastava who practices in the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court in said, “Medical report is a key piece of evidence in proving guilt or otherwise of the accused, particularly in cases of rape, murder, attempted murder etc,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Khusbhu, the PG student who is in the eye of the storm for writing a medical report of the gang-rape victim in which she said that ‘sex was consensual’ and referred to the ‘victim’ as the ‘accused’ in her report, said it was a gross error on her part to write such a report.

“I had too much work on my hand and rushed through while writing the report and that is how the error crept in,” she told HT.

Dr Khushbu, who has done only four medico-legal cases also blamed her inexperience for the error. “No one forced me to do the report, but I did not know how to write the report correctly, and my English is also weak,” she explained on why she had written ‘accused’ when she meant ‘victim’.

However, she added that she has ‘learnt’ from her mistake.

First Published: Nov 11, 2017 18:56 IST