The medical profession is considered as a noble profession. Doctors are considered as the god. During these covid times, the doctors have saved many lives while they were also late in many. When the pandemic started, every one’s hope were only the doctors (for curing the virus) where they are hailed as ‘Corona Warriors’ and God (for giving the people hope to live, stay safe and healthy). It is often said that if a person feels a slight discomfort in the health, they should consult a doctor immediately and not to cure it themselves. However, medical negligence has become one of the serious issues in the country in recent years.
Remember the famous scene in the movie ‘Gabbar is Back’ where the protagonist tries to show the audience the importance of the services of a doctor towards the patients and not how to make money in the name of operations? In the end, the doctors involved were suspended after their video was released in the public. Another movie which depicted medical negligence and the dirty act involved in it so that the doctor is not held liable was ‘Ankur Arora murder case’. Medical negligence is covered under Consumer Law, Criminal Law as well as under Tort Law.
Section 304A, IPC reads as, “Causing death by negligence.—Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.” Under the civil liability or the tort law, medical negligence is considered when the patient is under the supervision of the healing facility or the restorative expert. The latter is held vicariously liable for any negligence. In the case of Mr. M Ramesh Reddy v. Condition of Andhra Pradesh, the healing centre specialists were held to be careless, for not keeping the washroom clean, which brought about the fall of an obstetrics tolerant in the restroom prompting the demise of the patient. A compensation of Rs. 1 Lac was granted against the doctor’s facility.
The burden of proof of negligence generally lies with the complainant. A high standard of evidence is required in the court of law to support an allegation of negligence against any doctor. In the case of Indian Medical Association vs. Santha, the Apex Court decided that the skill of a medical practitioner differs from doctor to doctor and it is incumbent upon the Complainant to prove that a doctor was negligent in the line of treatment that resulted in the life of the patient. Therefore, a Judge can find a doctor guilty only when it is proved that he has fallen short of the standard of reasonable medical care. It is the duty of the doctor towards his patients that whether he wants to undertake the case or not, what kind of medicine is to prescribed to the patient etc.
Medical negligence is a serious offence and the punishment given to such persons shall be such that they also suffer in the same way as the patients suffered. It needs to be clarified that unless there is prima facie evidence indicating medical negligence, notice either to a doctor or hospital cannot be issued. As soon as it is proved that the doctor and his staff were involved in any kind of medical negligence, according to me, their licence should be cancelled with no second thought and they should be sent for life imprisonment.
 2003 (1) CLD 81 (AP SCDRC).
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