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J Postgrad Med. 2018 Oct-Dec;64(4):206-211. doi: 10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_243_17.

Tele-evidence: A videoconferencing tool as a viable alternative to physical appearance of doctors for the judicial summons.

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1
Department of Hospital Administration, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, India.

Abstract

Introduction:

The role of physicians often extends beyond provision of direct patient care and includes appearance in courts as professional or expert witnesses to give their testimony in various legal cases. This often consumes precious time and resources of the doctors and the hospitals. This study was taken up to evaluate the present system of the physical appearance of the doctors to various courts and compare it with the videoconferencing mode of giving testimony (tele-evidence).

Materials and Methods:

Available records of summons and vehicles used were analyzed to calculate the cost involved and man-hours consumed in honoring the court summons. Telemedicine facility, available in our institute, was used for conducting tele-evidence with selected courts of the two states as a pilot, which was later expanded. A survey was also done to assess the experience of the physicians with physical appearance and videoconferencing using structured questionnaire after approval from the Institute's Ethics Committee. Likert scale of 0-10 points was used to measure satisfaction.

Results:

There was 43% drop in the monthly mileage of vehicles, 49% reduction in the fuel cost per month, and 28% savings in terms of time consumed for court duties. Satisfaction score for parameters of time consumed, physical strain, mental strain, communication with Honorable Judges, and overall experience was 87% through tele-evidence as compared to 31% with physical appearance.

Conclusion:

Tele-evidence is an acceptable and implementable mode of testifying and has led to tremendous resource savings in our tertiary care setting. The model needs to be replicated for deliverance of justice and is in consonance with Government's push toward Digital India.

KEYWORDS:

Carbon footprints; physician satisfaction; resources; summons; videoconferencing

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