As far as the rights of consumers are concerned, the International
Organization of Consumers Union (IOCU) in 1983 has specified about the eight
rights of a consumer. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986 then prescribed
six 'rights of consumers 'which are protected under the act.
However, these rights can be observed in the ancient Indian texts such as
Brihattrayee and Kautilya, in the form of rights given to patients. Patient
rights under Consumer Protection Act are not a recent evolution, but it has been
laid well beforehand in the ancient times, which were provided to the patients
by medical profession as well as by the rulers.
The health care services in India have seen a tremendous change in the past few
decades. The major change has been in the form of Consumer Protection Act (CPA)
formulated in the year 1986.The medical profession has also been brought under
the purview of this act since 1995.
All the patients making payments for availing health services has been brought
under the definition of 'consumer' by this act. "The consumer rights have been
specified initially by the US president John F Kennedy and The International
organization of Consumer's Union (IOCU) in 1983"
In 1993, the Supreme Court brought the medical profession U/S 2(1) (o) of
Consumer Protection Act.
How doctors are included in CPA:
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions order decreed that doctor
patient relationship is a contract for personal service and it is not master
servant relationship. The doctor patient relationship is a contract for personal
service and could not contract of personal service.
Who is liable:
- All medical/ dental practitioners doing independent medical/ dental
practice unless rendering only free services.
- All private hospitals charging patients.
- All hospitals having free as well as paying patients and all the paying
and free category patients receiving treatment in such hospitals.
Limitation Period is that file the complaint within 2 years from the date on
which the cause of action has arisen.
Meaning of Medical Negligence While considering the issue, the hon'ble Supreme
Court in Kusum Sharma & Ors. Vs Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre and
Placed reference to the Halsburry's Laws of England, 4th edn, vol.26
pp.17-18, wherein it was defined as 22pp, Negligence. Duties owed to patient. A
person who holds himself out as ready to give medical advice or treatment
impliedly undertakes that he is possessed of skill and knowledge for the
There Are Three Components In Medical Negligence:
- Existence of legal duty
- Breach of legal duty
- Damage caused by such breach
There are various kinds of situations which amount to medical negligence by a
medical professional such as incorrect diagnosis ,deferred diagnosis, inaccurate
surgery, long term negligent treatment, childbirth and labour malpractice ,
needless surgery and erroneous administration of anaesthesia etc.
The Honourable Supreme Court in Dr.Laxman Balkrishna Joshi Vs. Dr. Trimbark
has observed that every doctor must exercise reasonable
'Standard of care" that are set out in the profession . Any breach towards these
duties shall hold him liable for medical negligence.
Criminal liability of doctor:
Sec 304(a) of Indian Penal Code enforce on any medical profession who is liable
Civil liability of doctor:
Sec 74 and 75 of Contract act enforce in civil matter against medical
professional who is liable for negligence.
The patients while in pain approach the doctors for their treatment with a
simple hope of speedy recovery.
However, sometimes there are situations where the treatments do not go as
planned; it may be because of result of natural cause of life or due to the
doctor's fault. One thing which should be kept in mind is the fact that even
they are humans and prone to mistakes. However, any harm due to the negligent
act on part of the doctor or medical staff shall attract liability. Any person
aggrieved due to the medical negligence shall approach the abovementioned
authorities /courts for compensation.