Monday, 24 September 2012

Emedinews:Insights on Medicolegal Issues: Investigation and medical negligence

The investigating police officer and the private/patient complainant cannot always be supposed to have knowledge of medical science so as to determine whether the act of the alleged medical professional/doctor/ hospital amounts to rash or negligent act within the domain of criminal law under Section 304-A of IPC said the Supreme Court of India. The SC says: • As we have noticed hereinabove that the cases of doctors being subjected to criminal prosecution are on an increase. Sometimes such prosecutions are filed by private complainants and sometimes by police on an FIR being lodged and cognizance taken. • The criminal process once initiated subjects the medical professional to serious embarrassment and sometimes harassment. He has to seek bail to escape arrest, which may or may not be granted to him. At the end he may be exonerated by acquittal or discharge but the loss which he has suffered in his reputation cannot be compensated by any standards. • We may not be understood as holding that doctors can never be prosecuted for an offence of which rashness or negligence is an essential ingredient. • All that we are doing is to emphasize the need for care and caution in the interest of society; for, the service which the medical profession renders to human beings is probably the noblest of all, and hence there is a need for protecting doctors from frivolous or unjust prosecutions. • Many a complainant prefers recourse to criminal process as a tool for pressurizing the medical professional for extracting uncalled for or unjust compensation. Such malicious proceedings have to be guarded against.

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