How to file a complaint for medical negligence procedure and legal recourse

Overview: The doctor or hospital owes a duty of care to its patients. There are instances where the doctor/hospital might be negligent in their duty which amounts to breach of care that they need to provide to their patients. Failing to do so, the patient might have to undergo injury or face consequences which deteriorate his quality of life. 

Instances of medical negligence include incompetence on part of the doctor, overcharging by hospital, non-disclosure of medical treatment, performance of unnecessary medical procedure on the patient etc. 

There are both civil and criminal redressal options available to the patient under the Indian law. A person can only claim compensation through the civil route and would have to bring a criminal complaint if the charges are of a more serious nature. 

Purpose: To provide patients with an avenue to redress their grievance with regards to negligence/malpractice by a doctor against a medical procedure, its administration, treatment, confidentiality etc.

Areas of Application of Law: Medical negligence as a civil wrong is afforded protection under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. 

Process: Below is the step by step recourse for filing a complaint for medical negligence: 

  1. The complainant, as a first step can file complaint with the local police, the state medical council or the state consumer forum.
  2. If the complaint is before the local police, they will send it to the state medical council.
  3. If the state medical council finds it weighty, and depending on the charges made in the complaint, it will send it to be heard before the appropriate court.
  4. The state medical council can pass an order suspending the doctors’ license for a specific period of time or removing his name from the medical register.
  5. If either party wishes to appeal against the order passed by the state medical council, they can approach the medical council of India.
  6. Once the state medical council has given its decision, the complainant can approach the consumer court for compensation.
  7.  At this stage, the person should engage a lawyer and inform him of the circumstances/past history of the complaint and communicate the decision of the state medical council.
  8. The complainant must disclose the nature of medical negligence such as being overcharged by hospital authorities, non-disclosure of medical procedure, unnecessary procedure, and incompetence of doctor while performing a procedure- as the case might be.
  9. The lawyer, after asking for the below mentioned documents will file a complaint in the consumer court for medical negligence.
  10. The complainant should ensure that he has read and understood the contents of the complaint prepared by the lawyer before he files it and thereafter make sure that all relevant affidavits and Vakalatnama are signed by him.
  11. It is likely that the consumer court will appoint a panel of medical experts to look into the allegations of medical negligence under the complaint.
  12. If the court is satisfied that there has been medical negligence, it will lay down the compensation to be paid to the complainant. However, it does not have the power to punish anyone even if negligence is proved.
  13. If any party is unsatisfied with the decision of the consumer court- they can challenge it at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Court (NCDRC) and at the Supreme Court after that
  14. Cases of medical negligence usually turn out to be an expensive and long legal affair lasting anywhere between 3-5 years.

Documents required to be submitted in the court, if any: Documents that could held to prove medical negligence against a doctor/hospital- copy of medical reports, test reports, diagnosis, prescription reports, procedure advice, medical bills, overhead expenses etc.  

Punishment/Expected Relief: Compensation for any kind of medical negligence suffered at the hands of a doctor while on duty. 

Landmark Judgments:

1. Jacob Mathew vs State Of Punjab & Anr  

2.Upasana Hospital And Anr. vs S. Farook 

 

 

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