Law Governing The Cases Of Medical Negligence In India

In recent times some cases of medical negligence in India have come to light. It opens up the debate about the prevalence of medical laws in India and awareness about the same. As a citizen of the country, you must know about laws that govern the avenue of medical negligence. Section 304A, the India Penal Code 1860 says that” Whoever causes the death of a person by a rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of terms of two years, or, with a fine or with both.”

What It By Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence’s primary definition articulates about the improper or neglectful treatment by a serving health care professional. Health care professionals like physicians, nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, or any other healthcare professional come under the law’s purview. It is also the basis for medical malpractice claims. The victim can claim compensation on the grounds of medical negligence.

Some instances of medical negligence are as follows:

  • Inappropriate administration of medicine. 
  • If doctors perform improper surgery.
  • Providing unsuitable medical advice. 
  • Presence of foreign object inside the patient’s body after surgery.
  • Not bringing it into the patient’s knowledge about some severe side effects of medicines or surgeries. 

Proving Medical Negligence

If you want to prove a case of medical negligence, there are four areas of concern.

  • The medical professional or the organization owed them a duty. 
  • The medical professional did not perform a duty of medical care to the patient.
  • The breach was serious and caused injury, suffering, or death for the patient.
  • There was a delay in treatment that caused substantial patient harm.
  • The loss of the patient is evident. 

Proving medical negligence can be a difficult job without a proper understanding of concerning laws. A medical professional is expected to provide medical care according to their training and educational background in India. Thus, the liability of medical care is not the same for a nurse and a doctor. The court of law will take these factors into account while registering a case of medical negligence. All medical professionals may not be liable under the same category of failure to fulfilling medical commitments. The Supreme Court Of India has said in a verdict that “every doctor, at a government hospital or elsewhere, has a professional obligation to extend his services with due expertise for protecting life,” in the case of Parmanand Kataria vs. Union of India.

The Consequences of Medial Negligence In India 

Medical negligence can have serious legal consequences in India. There are three different areas of matters mentioned below.

  • Criminal Liability. 
  • Monetary Liability. 
  • Disciplinary Action. 

Criminal liability – According to section 304A of IPC, any person who has caused the death of some other person due to negligence is liable to punish on the grounds of a criminal offense. The medial negligence cases come under the same category of criminal liability.

Doctors have a defense under Section 80 and 88 of the Indian Penal Code from criminal liability in medical negligence cases.

Monetary Liability- If medical negligence is proved against a medical professional or an organization, they can be held liable for financial compensation. The court of law is free to decide on the amount after carefully considering the extent of damage and the time of medical negligence. However, there are some exceptional instances, as mentioned in the State of Haryana v. Smt Santra. 

Disciplinary Action – Disciplinary action in medical negligence cases can be taken under the Indian Medical Council (IMC) (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, Ethics) Regulations. 2002. It is the prime governing authority and is regulated by the Medical Council of India (MCI) and State Medical Councils.

Landmark Mark Cases Of Medical Negligence 

The courts of law of India, including the Supreme Court of India, has witnessed some of the landmark cases of Medical Negligence. Some of these cases are mentioned below.

  • Kunal Saha V. Advanced Medical Research Institute- AMRI. The name also knows of Anuradha Saha case. 
  • Jacob Mathew V. the State of Punjab.
  • V.Krishna Rao V. Nikhil Super Specialty Hospital. 
  • Kusum Sharma & Ors vs. Batra Hospital & Medical Research.  

These landmark cases have helped in determining the course of law for Medical negligence in India. Several dimensions of medical negligence cases, including the vulnerability of medical professionals, have been considered. On several occasions, the judgment passed in these cases is regarded as a reference for medical negligence cases.

Conclusion 

Health is the most valuable asset for any human being. Kevin Alen Lee says, “Being in such a profession where sick, ill, and sufferers are your customers who look upon you as the almighty, an absolute amount of care is expected.” Thus, the medical professionals must offer the highest degree of care and commitment to every patient irrespective of their socio-cultural and economic background. Yet, under some unfortunate circumstances or negligence, if patients suffer, the laws will deliver justice.  The assistance of a proficient lawyer is mandatory for such legal ways. 

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