Consumer Protection Act and Medical Profession - Indian Penal Code and Medical Negligence

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Indian Penal Code and Medical Negligence

Indian Penal Code, 1860 sections 52, 80, 81, 83, 88, 90, 91, 92 304-A, 337 and 338 contain the law of medical malpraxis in India.

A physician can be charged with criminal negligence when a patient dies from the effects of anesthesia during, an operation or other kind of treatment, if it can be proved that the death was the result if malicious intention, or gross negligence. Before the administration of anaesthesia or performance of an operation, the medical man is expected to follow the accepted precautions.

In such cases, the physician should be able to prove that he used reasonable and ordinary care in the treatment of his patient to the best of his judgment. He is, however, not liable for an error judgment. The law expects a duly qualified physician to use that degree of skill and care which an average man of his qualifications ought to have, and does not expect him to bring the highest possible degree of skill in the treatment of his patients, or to be able to guarantee cures.

It has long been recognized that criminal liability of a physician may result from a high degree of negligent conduct. What the law calls criminal negligence is largely a matter of degree; it is incapable of a precise definition. To prove whether or not it exists is like chasing a mirage. It requires that any of the following to be established in a case of criminal medical negligence.

“Gross Lack of competency or gross inattention, or wanton indifferences to the patient’s safety, which may arise from gross ignorance of the science of medicine and surgery or through gross negligence, either in the application and selection of remedies, lack of proper skill in the use of instruments and failure to give proper attention to the patient.” (Hampton v State; State v Lester)

In R. v Bateman (1925), Dr. Bateman was prosecuted for manslaughter and the charges of negligence made against him were:
i) Causing the internal ruptures in performing the operations of ‘version’;
ii) Removing part of the uterus along with the placenta;
iii) Delay in sending the patient to the infirmary.

The trial court convicted him. But the Court of Appeal held: “ ….. in order to establish criminal liability, the facts must be such that, …. the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation between subjects and should such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the state and conduct punishment.”

When a FIR (First Information Report) is filed against a doctor for the death of a patient who was under his treatment, under this Indian Penal Code Section 304-A the doctor can be arrested. A doctor charged under this section can obtain bail and if proved guilty, the doctor can be punished with a maximum of two years imprisonment or fine or both. But, if the patient is alive, the doctor is charged under the Indian Penal Code Section 337 and 338.

The Indian Courts have been very careful not to hold qualified physicians criminally (instances of quacks for criminal negligence are there) liable for patients’ deaths that are the result of a mere mistake of judgment in the selection and application of remedies and when the death resulted merely from an error of judgment or an inadvertent death.

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Kapil999 

I was appointed to run a clinic from a hospital facility. The management one day suddenly closed the premises, with all my belongings trapped inside, without giving me any notice. The treatment of many patients was under way and they feel lost. I have complained to police for cognizable offences and also written to the state medical bodies highlighting the manner in which the premises was shut down in my absence. Are any clauses of medical act violated in this sudden and unannounced closure of a medical facility? Dr K G

Rajeev2009 

I have booked two tickets under PNR no. 4408538575, for travelling from bangalore to delhi by 12213 duranto express on 27-06-2015. But on 23-06-2015 i have received a message regarding cancellation of train, then i called railway enquiry no. 139 in this regard and they told that train cancellation can only be confirmed on 27-06-2015 morning and also advised that i have not to cancel the ticket now but after departure time of the train i have to file the TDR online through irctc website. But when i open the site next day the ticket cancellation option said that it is too late too be cancelled and TDR option said that TDR can only be filled after charting and departure. So I could not cancel my tickets and contact the irctc helpline 011- 39340000 and they told to send an email in this regard on c[email protected] and they issue me a Ticket No. 1686501, But they also refused the return on 12/07/2015 by saying that I have filled the TDR very late on 03/07/2015, which had to be filled within 72 hours of train departure time. As I have said earlier wihen I make cancellation of ticket irctc website refuse it and when I file TDR irctc site told that TDR can only be file after charting done and departure of train, no other method is describe there. The method of sending email is only come to know by me when I contacted irctc helpline. This is duty of Railway and Irctc to let the passenger know about the refund procedure in case of cancellation of train. So I want back all my money which is Rs.5636.17/- as train is cancelled by railway itself.

abhi0786 

I need suggestion regarding the doctors bill. Doctor is giving me bill for 17000 for 3 day for my wife's treatment. She was not admitted to the clinic, just for three days doctor given her 2 bottle of saline everyday. Doctor is having clinic not the hospital. Can you suggest what can i do?

chit123 

I want to complain against shiv medicos in H block ashok vihar for not giving proper bills for medicines purchased and also not verifying or asking for any prescription and seselling medicines without prescriptions...

nagercoil123 

This letter is with reference to the wrong or unwanted medical procedure and hiding the truth regarding my health. Dr. S.Selvamani, Senior Consultant and Interventional cardiologist [ Reg. No: 36009] done procedures like TPI CAG Successful PTCA with BVS (Bio Resorbable Vascular Scaffold) to RCA done on 18-19-2013. I was discharged on 28/09/2013 with the discharge summary as General Condition is GOOD and I thought that I had a single vessel block and that it was cleared by PTCA method and I can continue a normal life. After Discharge,( since the hospital is around 250 Km away from my home town ) I went to another cardiologist in my home town , He took ECHO and stated the extra points like Dialated LA/LV , Grade 3 Diastolic Dysfunction , Moderate PAH , Sclerotic aortic value and minimal effusion behind inferolateral wall , moderate to severe MR, posteriorly directed wall hugging jet ( MR dp/dt 982) and the Global EF is 33 % although Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai took ECHO they didn't reveled the above points in their discharge sheet and the cardiologist Dr.S.Selvamani ,didn't prescribed the medicines which will improve the EF % . Now I am taking T.Planeb, T.Cardarone and T. Cardace to improve the condition of the heart prescribed by an another cardiologist to improve the pumping capacity of the heart, which was failed by Dr. S. Selvamani. So I suspect that Dr. S. Selvamani didn't diagnosed or gave importance to the pumping capacity of my heart and he did wrong or unwanted procedure like PTCA and temporary pace maker installation. Dr. S. Selvamani, procedures makes me to spend around Rs.4,50,000 ( Rupees Four lacs and fifty Thousand ) at Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai and now I am spending more money on review and other lab and ECHO procedures to improve the EF% of my heart. I strongly believe that I have been treated wrong / unwanted procedures at Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai by Dr. S.Selvamani. I am ready to submit any medical documents and willing to go any more procedures to prove that I had been treated at Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai in unwanted or neglected medical procedures.

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