HC cautions against trend of making reckless allegations of negligence against doctors

Bengaluru / Karnataka : 19/08/2020 :  A view of High Court of Karnataka  on 19 August 2020.  Photo : V Sreenivasa  Murthy/The Hindu.

Bengaluru / Karnataka : 19/08/2020 : A view of High Court of Karnataka on 19 August 2020. Photo : V Sreenivasa  Murthy/The Hindu.

While quashing a 12-year-old medical negligence case against a medical practitioner, the High Court of Karnataka has cautioned against the recent trend of cases of medical negligence launched recklessly by patients and their relatives.

“Compensation culture which obtains in other jurisdictions is gradually gaining entry into the field of medical services in our society, affecting a healthy relationship of doctors and patients,” the court observed.

Justice Krishna S. Dixit made these observations while quashing the warning given by the Karnataka Medical Council to Dr. Ganesh Nayak in May 2009 on the alleged procedural breach in accomplishing angioplasty to an aged and ailing lady.

Pointing out that medical records, including the order of the KMC, prima facie show that the cause of death is a serious bacterial infection contracted by the woman after a huge time gap between the angioplasty and the demise of the patient, the Court said that “there is nothing on record to show that the alleged deficiency in professional service accelerated the process of health deterioration that eventually resulted into her death…; and there is no reasonable connect or nexus between the medical procedure done by Dr. Nayak and death of the patient.”

Noticing that courts have been nowadays observing that an unscrupulous section of the people are prone to use slightest opportunity to sue the doctors and hospitals, in the hope of making fast buck, Justice Dixit said that “the motivation of people bringing action for medical negligence are more complicated: some sue for money, others sue for getting an acceptance of guilt, some others do it to ensure that errors would not be repeated. But a large chunk of cases does not involve bonafide dreams…”

“The compensation culture,” the Court said, “be it truth or myth in varying degrees, has given rise to risk aversion as medical professionals having a complaint made against them gather impression that there is an unjustifiable attack on their professional integrity and reputation. This may lead to defensive response of the medicos ultimately resulting into enormous cost escalation in medical services.”

While lauding the doctors and paramedics for serving the society, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic, the court said the society has to gratefully appreciate the valuable services rendered by them.

The court, however, hastened to add that “doctors’ is a profession wherein service ought to be the motto and not the profit; as any professionals, they too are not immune from legal action for medical check negligence.”

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 3:43:15 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/hc-cautions-against-trend-of-making-reckless-allegations-of-negligence-against-doctors/article38293191.ece