Medical Negligence in india | What is Medical Negligence

Medical Negligence In India | What is Medical Negligence

Medical Negligence: Meaning


Legal meaning of Medical Negligence is slightly different from then from its general sense. In layman’s understanding, medical negligence simply means carelessness, but in the legal definition, medical negligence is more than mere carelessness. It is a failure of a person to perform a certain act which he was expected to do in the course of his duty. 

In recent years we all have seen or heard cases of doctors declaring alive baby as dead, leaving medical instruments in patients body or prescribing wrong medicines, etc., all these examples of medical negligence.


Medical Negligence in Indian Hospitals

Hospital liability arises in medical negligence either directly or vicariously. A hospital’s direct liability arose when the hospital itself was deficient in providing a suitable environment and care to a patient. And Vicarious liability arises when an employee has acted negligently, and the hospital is indirectly responsible for the it’s employee fault. The rule of vicarious liability in medical negligence is applied to the hospital because it is the employer and the medical practitioner are its employees. In India, the rule of vicarious liability states that employer is liable for the negligence done by the employee.


When does medical negligence arise?

The liability of a doctor does not simply arise because the patient has suffered an injury. The liability arises when the injury suffered is due to the direct negligent of a doctor or medical practitioner. So not every injury sustained by a patient falls under the purview of medical negligence. For an act to be medical negligence in India, there has to be a direct relationship between a patient’s injury and the negligent act of the medical practitioner. Moreover, for the negligent act of doctor or other medical practitioners, vicarious liability of hospital arises automatically.


Remedies available against Medical Negligence

In cases of medical negligence, the victim or the family members have the option of two types of legal remedies.

Firstly, a criminal complaint can be filed against the medical practitioner or the hospital. The Indian Penal Code prescribed negligence as a crime under Section 52, 80, 81, 88, 91, 92 304A, 337 and 338. Section 304A deals with the crime of causing a person’s death due to negligence or rash acts.

Secondly, a consumer complaint can be filed for medical negligence under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The complaint can be filed in the appropriate consumer forum. The consumer forums in India are divided into three tiers: 


l  District Forum: Cases with a total value up to Rs. 25 lakh are filed.

l  State Consumer Redressal Forum: Cases with the value above Rs. 25 lakh and below Rs. 1 crore are filed here.

l  National Commission: Cases with a total value of Rs. 1 crore and above are filed here.