Different duties and responsibilities towards educated vis-a-vis uneducated patients
- Due to lack of knowledge, it is the duty and responsibility of the doctor/hospital to explain all relevant information to an uneducated patient. Court assumes that educated patients have a certain level of maturity and understanding and so in the same situation, an educated patient may be considered guilty while an uneducated patient may be overlooked
- Appropriate investigations, efforts and proper contemplation must be done to gather patient history before starting a risky/critical treatment
- Failure to arrive at an early diagnosis or making a wrong diagnosis is not per se negligence. Law merely mandates that appropriate and timely efforts must be made to arrive at a correct diagnosis
The patient approached an oncologist with complaint of difficulty in walking, slurred speech, and paraesthesia since 15 days. The patient was diagnosed as a cancer patient and put on palliative radiotherapy and gave brain radiation for 2days only and then stopped. Ten days later, the patient was taken to AIIMS where an X-ray was taken and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) study was performed. The patient was diagnosed not suffering from cancer but disseminated TB.
Findings of the court
The court found that nothing was recorded in the admission notes of the hospital about the patient's past history as the patient or his family did not disclose the complete history to the oncologist, which was a serious lapse on part of the patient who was an educated person. The court held that there was no negligence committed during the treatment of the patient but granted compensation for mental agony