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Landmark Medico-Legal Cases In India

Cover Story Health and Wellness January 2019

Landmark Medico-Legal Cases In India

Landmark medico-legal cases in India

The Indian legal system deals with medico-legal cases primarily through its consumer courts. The introduction of Consumer Protection Act in 1986 has helped Indian patients to address their grievances about medical negligence by the health care professionals.

Laxman B. Joshi v. T. B. Godbole and Another (AIR 1969 SC 128)

Standard of care was laid down by Supreme Court in these cases. The SC held that if a doctor has taken steps that are an acceptable practice considered “proper” by a reasonable body of medical experts in that field, s/he will not be liable to negligence just because something went wrong.

Parmanand Kataria v. Union of India (AIR 1989 SC 2039)

The SC explained that the duty of a doctor towards his patient is to “bring to his task a reasonable degree of skill and knowledge” and to exercise “a reasonable degree of care”.

Paschim Bengal Khet Mazdoor Samity and Ors. v. State of Bengal(1996(4)SC260)

Hospitals are liable for negligence for not providing adequate medical facility.

State of Haryana v. Smt Santra (AIR 2000 SC 3335)

The SC held that every doctor “has a duty t2o act with a reasonable degree of care and skill”.

Aparna Dutt v. Apollo Hospital Enterprises Ltd (2002 ACJ 954 (Mad. HC)

It was established that if any of the hospital staff falls short in their assigned duty, the hospital will be held liable to negligence, even in cases of borrowed doctors for certain surgeries.

M Ramesh Reddy v. State of Andra Pradesh [2003 (1) CLD 81 (APSCDRC)

Hospitals are vicariously liable for negligence if they don’t provide proper sanitation facilities.

Pravat Kumar Mukherjee v. Ruby General Hospital and Ors (2005 CPJ 35 (NC)

In this case, the hospital was held liable to negligence when the accident victim died en route to another hospital when the first hospital approached refused treatment. The complainant was awarded compensation of INR 10 lakh on humanitarian grounds.

Marrin F D’Souza v. Mohd Ishfaq (2 SC 40, 2009)

The SC observed that medical caregivers shouldn’t be overly worried about how they perform. The law is only vigilant and as long as they do their duty with reasonable care, they won’t be liable for negligence even if their course of treatment fails.

Kusum Sharma v. Batra Hospital and Medical research Center and Other (AIR 2010 SC 1050)

The SC held that if the medical professional falls below the level of standard reasonable competence in the said field, s/he will be liable for negligence due to deficiency in medical service according to section 2(1)(g) of Consumer Protection Act.


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