Welcome to Dr. Archana Sharma MedLegal Helpdesk. We at HiDoc are proud to partner with the Institute of Medicine and Law (IML) for educating doctors and providing legal aid when they are threatened with criminal action in cases of medical negligence. Working on a threefold approach, we provide these services free of cost.
Read on to know more about this noble initiative.
A renowned gynecologist of Dausa, Rajasthan, Dr. Archana Sharma, committed suicide on 30 March 2022. She was accused of ‘murdering’ a 22-year-old woman who died a few hours after delivering a baby due to postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). Charged with a case of medical negligence and unaware of her legal rights, Dr. Sharma hung herself succumbing to the harassment after an FIR was lodged against her.
The suicide of Dr. Archana shook not just the medical fraternity but the entire nation. She left behind a note pleading her innocence, stating that PPH is a common complication. Leaving behind a husband, a son, and a daughter, Dr. Archana begged to not harass innocent doctors.
In 2005, the Supreme Court in the landmark judgment in Jacob Mathews v/s State of Punjab has provided specific protection to doctors in criminal proceedings, irrespective of whether they are initiated in the police station or courts. But many doctors, like Dr. Archana, are not aware of this. The Institute of Medicine and Law thus initiated a helpdesk to create awareness about the legal rights available to healthcare professionals and to offer legal aid free of cost, so that no other doctor becomes a victim again.
The Helpdesk assists in three ways
We have a dedicated resource that can be contacted by any aggrieved doctor threatened with police action. The helpline would connect them to lawyers from the Supreme Court for advice and consultation, who would reach them within an hour 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.
Most healthcare professionals are not aware of their legal rights and privileges in such specific cases. The first step to tackling the problem is to create awareness of the same. We would be organizing various webinars to educate the doctors about the concerned law on our platform.
We would train volunteer doctors who would in turn spread awareness through training sessions amongst their peers. We would provide content, judgments, slide decks, commonly asked questions, and other reference material on this subject for free. Every effort will be made to keep the trainers updated on the changes in law, judgments, and relevant information.