NMA warns of protest against new Criminal Code Act

Kathmandu, August 13

Nepal Medical Association has stated that doctors across the country will boycott their duties from August 17 if the government does not amend the new Criminal Code Act.

Organising a press conference today, NMA warned that all the doctors would submit their licences and aprons to Nepal Medical Council if the government fails to withdraw the provisions of tougher penalties for negligence during the treatment of patients from the Criminal Code Act.

Nepal Medical Association said the controversial law had been formulated without any research or discussion with specialists and concerned stakeholders.

Dr Mukti Ram Shrestha, president of NMA said the government had cheated doctors by going against the agreement to protect the rights of doctors and formulate the law by striking a balance with consumers’ rights on 29 September  2017.

“Without conducting any scientific research and taking suggestions from specialists, the government had proposed the law. This law will only benefit certain consumer groups,” Shrestha said.

Shrestha alleged that the government had provided the responsibility of formulating law to laymen who did not have any knowledge of the medical sector. “Such provision in the law will discourage doctors and affect health services,” he said.

General secretary of Nepal Medical Association Dr Lochan Karki said he was not against penalising careless and negligent doctors, but there should be a balanced approach in the law else the provision could put patients at risk.

“We have just demanded to propose the law as Civil Code Act rather than Criminal Code Act,” Dr Karki said. “We also reject the provisions in sections 231, 232 and 239 of Criminal Code Act,” he added.

“It is the responsibility of doctors to provide treatment even if there is very less possibility of the patient’s survival. If the law defines the attempt of life saving acts as doctor’s negligence, no doctor will provide service to patients in critical stage,” added Dr Karki.

“Under the new law, this life-saving act of a doctor is termed ‘negligence’ and hence doctors may not take such risk,” he added. “Doctors wary of medical negligence law in the United States of America prefer to start treatment only after the disease is fully diagnosed, sometimes allowing the progression of the disease.”

In this backdrop, the association has demanded amendments ensuring probe by a team of experts and actions under the Civil Code in case of medical recklessness or negligence by a doctor.