The Dr. Anamika Ray Memorial Trust takes note of the allegations by Dr. Satyajit Borah, Secretary of the Assam branch of the Indian Medical Association, and finds them prejudicial and manipulative with an intent that is not above suspicion. He calls into question the data provided by the Managing Trustee Dr. Ankuran Dutta in his rejoinder (published on the 21st of May 2016) to his original objections. In his article, he claims Dr. Dutta’s data as “totally absurd, imaginary and outrageous”. He refutes the data claiming that if 2% of cases amounts of 52 lakhs, then total cases amount to “one-fifth of the total population of the country”. However, this calculation is fallacious and manipulative due to two reasons.

The first reason is that no statistical information related to percentage of incidents was shared by Dr. Dutta in his reply on the 21st, to which Dr. Borah claims to be responding. So where did Dr. Borah obtain the numbers that he is using to show the “falsity” of Dr. Dutta’s claims? In fact, the data was provided in an earlier article (14th May 2016) published in the Assam Tribune. In that article, Dr. Dutta had mentioned, “The situation is such that about 52 lakh of medical injuries are recorded in India, of which around 98,000 victims lose their lives every year.” In another news report, an opinion of an invited guest to the first advocacy meeting that only 2% medical malpractice victims sue for compensation and 98% of malpractice victims never receive compensation because they never start a suit even in developed countries was also mentioned. Dr. Borah has combined the two separate and disparate figures and provided a calculation aimed to mislead the readers.

The second reason is that the only data provided by Dr. Dutta in his reply on the 21st May pertained to the research by Dr. Mukesh Yadav and Dr. Pooja Rastogi, for which Dr. Dutta cannot be held responsible. Similarly, information discussed in the television programme is information in the public domain and Dr. Dutta cannot be held responsible for using such information as he has not “invented'” it but has clearly used publicly accessible data.

Moreover, Dr. Borah also attempts to undercut the seriousness of the issue raised by the movement “Stop Medical Terrorism” and present it as a non-issue to further confuse the reading public. However, some data that he provides to refute Dr. Dutta’s claims itself shows the glaring lacuna in his judgement pertaining to the matter. Dr. Borah himself states with reference to the study by Mukesh Yadav and Pooja Rastogi that 68.7% cases were not proven. However, this leaves us with a number of 31.3%, which is almost a third of the cases and is not an insignificant number. In fact, in a country where documentation is always an issue and much of interaction even with medical professionals is carried on verbatim, it is extremely difficult to prove incidents like this. This does not undermine the significance of the 31.3% cases that were proven.

The Trust also wonders about Dr. Borah’s and the IMA’s motives and intention. Why is Dr. Borah focusing on the terminology and not on the issue, especially after the meaning, scope and relevance of the term was already clarified by the Trust on the 21st? Why is not focusing on the seriousness of the malpractices in the medical profession, which should be a primary concern for the IMA? Is this a deliberate attempt to cloud the issue and discredit those who are raising this issue?

No data is provided by the IMA as to the 'actual' number of cases according to them. Have they conducted any research into this extremely serious issue? If so, where are the results of that investigation? Why were they not quoted by Dr. Borah when he claims Dr. Dutta's data to be false? If not, then why have they not conducted any investigation into an issue that seriously undermines the relationship between doctor and patient?

The Trust feels that there is a deliberate attempt to overshadow the significant goal of medical reforms through misdirection towards the term “Medical Terrorism”. The purpose of the movement, as has been clearly stated before, is to improve health care services in India. Why would Dr. Borah or the IMA or other medical practitioners be against such a goal? The medical profession is a noble one and the movement aims to work with doctors who believe so as partners in the process of re-establishing people's trust in the medical system and to ensure that the sacred relationship between a doctor and a patient remains so. Anyone who believes in the nobility of the medical profession and does not see it as a business alone would be willing to support the movement rather than opposing it.

Dr. Borah and others have opposed the term 'medical terrorism' on grounds of negativity and insisted that 'medical negligence' is more appropriate. However, 'negligence' indicates a crime of omission. What should we call a crime of commission committed in the arena of the medical profession using the knowledge, power and superior position provided by that profession? To deny the existence of such incidents where patients have been deliberately harmed by medical professionals either for money or for other vested interests is like saying that there is no corruption in India - a laughable and obviously invalid claim. And to give the name 'negligence' to such heinous acts is an insult not only of the victims but also of the entire medical profession and those doctors who are working diligently to uphold the greatness of the medical profession.

The Trust reiterates that the purpose of the movement is to bring about improvement in health care services in the country through legislation aimed at systemic changes. It is a distant and difficult goal but the movement is determined to succeed so that victims of Medical Terrorism can find justice, so that doctors who wish to and are trying to make a difference through their actions can do so with greater ease, and so that there is greater and justified trust in the relationship between medical professionals and patients. The Trust urges the public not to be swayed by divertive and misleading arguments and to support the movement. To support the movement launched by this Trust, any supporter can type JOIN ATRUST and ‘SMS’ it to 9220092200 or give a missed call to 02262116842.

Professor Madhab C Sarma
Dr. Anamika Ray Memorial Trust

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