Trigger Warning: Mentions of death and suffering In 2016, Shilpa Datla lost her mother to cancer due to the medical negligence of a renowned Hyderabad gynaecologist.

“My mother observed spotting after six months of her menopause. Every time she went to that doctor, she said there was no need to worry. But postmenopausal bleeding is a red flag,” she says.

It was only three years later when she went to an oncologist for a regular breast checkup that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

“We went for radiation but we found out that she had developed multiple tumours. Her urinary tract and rectum were blocked by tumours. Because of this, she was throwing up everything. It was terrible,” says Shilpa.

Owing to the intense suffering, her mother could survive only for about six months after the procedure.

“The doctors said it was unnecessary to take such a risk given unusual spotting after menopause. If she had done a simple hysterectomy, my amma would have been alive,” she laments.

After a month, Shilpa decided to file a case against the gynaecologist for her medical negligence. Last year in 2023, she finally won the legal battle against the doctor.

“I understand that doctors get many patients but every life is important and precious. With this judgement, they will understand that laws are strict and they cannot be just reckless about a life,” she adds.

To guide people with similar concerns, Shilpa shares five ways to prepare themselves for a legal battle based on her experiences.

Be determined “Initially, everybody scared me. They reminded me how long legal proceedings could go and I have the responsibility of raising two children. I could never forget the pain that my mother went through. This always motivated me to fight for her,” she says.

Find a good lawyer Shilpa points out that legal proceedings could mean shelling out a lot of money but one needs to find a trustworthy lawyer who would stand by you irrespective of the challenging circumstances.

Understand the case properly “You’d be asked about the case multiple times, and you’d be reliving the pain multiple times. But you need to know the facts that caused the negligence so that you can prove it. Dig a little deeper into the information,” she adds.

Check similar cases Shilpa advises people should reach out to similar cases as they could give better guidance based on their experiences.

Getting justice is a tedious journey It is not unknown that legal battles can be cumbersome and time-consuming. “I doubted if we’ll get justice in eight years. Legal proceedings can go on for years. It is both a mental and physical effort but you have to be persistent,” she says.