Criminal code: Doctors to halt services except for emergency todayThe Nepal Medical Association has announced to shut down all the medical services except emergency care on Sunday as part of its phase-wise protests over the provisions of the newly enforced Criminal Code aimed at curbing medical negligence and recklessness by doctors.
The Nepal Medical Association has announced to shut down all the medical services except emergency care on Sunday as part of its phase-wise protests over the provisions of the newly enforced Criminal Code aimed at curbing medical negligence and recklessness by doctors.
The association will stage demonstrations at Maitighar Mandala in Kathmandu and in the District Administration Offices across the country.
In a statement on Friday, the association announced a series of protests citing the government’s reluctance to amend the Criminal Code or to add the “jail without bail” provision for the accused.
According to NMA President Dr Mukti Ram Shrestha, the new code has instilled fear among doctors who work under pressure. “The government has missed its second deadline [August 31] too, giving us no option but to go ahead with our protests nationwide,” Shrestha told the Post. The medical fraternity has strong reservations over the new Criminal Code, which came into effect on August 17. The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs had pledged to amend the provisions.
Section 232 of the code spells out three-year jail and Rs30,000 fine or five-year jail and Rs50,000 fine if a doctor is found guilty of negligence or recklessness while treating a patient, including faulty prescriptions that cause patient’s death.
“If a doctor is found guilty, there should be no compromise on action but the government’s investigation mechanism is not clear. How will the government decide if the accused is guilty or not?” wondered Dr Madan Prasad Upadhyay, a former dean at the Institute of Medicine.
Legal experts have expressed concerns over Section 232 of the code. Four days after the new codes came into effect, Advocate Yagyamani Neupane filed a writ petition for annulling eight provisions of the new Civil and Criminal Codes.
“With the new provisions, medical services will be regularly disrupted as patient’s family members will file cases, mostly when a patient dies,” Advocate Baburam Aryal told the Post. “Also, under the new Criminal Code, doctors will be arrested [before investigation] and put behind the bars, giving them narrow space to prove their innocence.”
As part of its phase-wise protests, the NMA will halt administrative works at all the health institutions on September 3 and will stop admitting patients except for emergency from September 4.
On September 5, the NMA will only allow emergency surgeries, followed by a shutdown of all laboratory and radiology services except for emergency cases on September 6. From September 7, all medical services including OPD, barring Emergency, would be shut down until the doctors’ demands are met.