Claiming to be a ‘specialist’
The law requires every doctor to be adequately qualified to be a specialist under law and not portray themselves as one. A reckless or gross negligent act by the doctor can make him criminally liable. Also, any deficiency in providing a cautious and good sense of opinion is considered as negligence. To commence a criminal action against a doctor, a foolproof case is not required as the facts are presumed to be true unless disapproved (a prima facie case)
A doctor diagnosed TB for a 7 year old girl as blood tests disclosed abnormal increase in white blood cells and started treatment for the same. But the patient continued to suffer from vomiting and high fever and the doctor continued the same line of treatment. After 3 months of continuing with the same symptoms, the doctor consulted his colleague who suggested a biopsy of the bone marrow. This biopsy confirmed an advance stage of leukaemia and had bleak chances of survival. A criminal complaint was filed against the doctor in court and the court directed a police investigation.
Findings of the court
The doctor challenged till the Supreme Court and the court observed that the nature of the disease determines the requirement of a specialised skill. This does not question the overall competency of the doctor.While the Supreme Court did not comment on whether the doctor was criminally negligent, a Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held the doctor negligent and directed him to pay Rs. 4 lakhs