“That the service is the noblest which is rendered for its own sake” by Mahatma Gandhi
In every society, the doctor is considered as God for saving the life of the patient. Whenever someone is having a health problem referrer to the doctor without hesitation. This trust when someone put in other then it becomes its duty to keep that trust. The relationship between a patient and doctor is purely based on trust. However, if such trust breached by any misconduct on part of the doctor and cause damage to its patient. Hence it is considered Medical negligence which is punishable under various laws such as torts, IPC, Indian Contract Act, etc. This could be by an act of commission or omission by the medical staff or doctor toward a patient.
There is various liability imposed on the doctor in case of any breach of duty while treating the patent. As we can see during the 2nd wave of corona in India the death toll is increased at a rapid rate. The reason for the medical negligence cases are on the rise given by the government and medical scientist is the shortage of medical oxygen, lack of ventilator at hospitals, medication staff are not trained to handle such situations and outdate knowledge of the healthcare worker or professional. Therefore such an act of irresponsibility imposed liability on the doctor or healthcare professional.
Liabilities of Doctor under Medical Negligence
The liability of the doctor or other medical professional committing the wrong to his patient can be of three types depending on the nature of the damage or injury suffered by the patient such as:
- Civil Liability– under this category doctor has been charge for civil wrong are mainly covered under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Civil law holds the medical practitioner or their staff responsible for not providing due care of medical service based on the facts and circumstance of the case. Civil liability usually includes the claim from damages suffered for medical misconduct in form of compensation to the patient by the courts.
- Criminal Liability– Negligence has been categorized as a criminal offence under the various provision of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The general condition of criminal liability shall be decided by two Latin maxims: ‘Actus non facit reum’ and ‘nisi mens sit rea’ which means the act alone does not amount to guilt; it must be accompanied by a guilty mind of the accused. The actus rea and mens rea plays an important role in deciding the criminal liability of a doctor. As the mens rea is essential, however, it is very difficult to find out that the doctor has a guilty mind and perform their work negligently. In a certain situation when the patient has died just after the medical treatment due to the rash or negligent act by a doctor or any other medical staff will be charged section 304A of IPC under the criminal case. According to section 304A- of IPC “whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide”, such person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years, or fine or with both.
- Liabilities under Consumer Protection Act- the medical negligence law cases were mainly covered under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This legislation highlights the problem face by the patient during medical treatment services in the private hospital or public hospital. The patient gets compensation for any breach of contract during its medical treatment. The complaint under this act is filed by the aggrieved person in the consumer court. However, the burden of proof is on the aggrieved party to produce evidence in the court against the alleged breach of duty by the accused. Subsequently, if the substantial evidence were proofed in the court, finally the matter is decided by the consumer court and the order is passed for compensation based on the complaint of the patient.