Can a doctor be prosecuted for criminal negligence merely because he/she failed to deliver on the assurances given to the patient? No, said the Allahabad High Court in Dr Meera Malik vs State of UP, while quashing a complaint against a surgeon.
It was alleged in the complaint that on the assurance of the surgeon that everything would be normal, consent papers were signed for operation to be conducted. The surgeon was also accused of medical negligence in conducting operation, which caused excessive bleeding and blood clotting, resulting in the death of the patient. The surgeon approached the high court seeking to quash the complaint.
Quashing the complaint, Justice Ravindra Nath Mishra said: “A simple lack of care, and error of judgment or an accident cannot be said to be poof of negligence on the part of the petitioner. It is not the case of prosecution that the petitioner did not possess requisite skill, which she professed to have possessed or she did not exercise of reasonable competence in the given case, the skill which she did possess.”
The court also observed that the element of cheating is also not made out merely because the surgeon had given assurance to control the condition of patient and there is nothing on record to show that she concealed any fact regarding treatment or that she did not possess the qualification which she professed. She had exercised the skill expected from a man of ordinary competence of medical, the court said.
It also said submission of charge sheet was not in accordance with the guidelines given by the apex court in the Jacob Mathew’s case, as no independent opinion of a government doctor was obtained regarding negligence before the submission of charge sheet.
Read the Judgment here.