#LegallySpeaking: Medico-Legal Tip
Tip: Prescribing medicines without diagnosis amounts to culpable negligence
• A pregnant woman was admitted to the hospital, where she underwent a caesarean surgery and gave birth to a baby. Since all her vitals were normal, the mother and the baby were discharged two days later.
• However, a day after her discharge, the woman fell sick, and hence was taken to the same hospital.
• Treating doctor was unavailable but asked patient to be admitted. Patient was being treated by two nurses, who were administering medicines on the telephonic instructions of the doctor.
• The next day, her condition further deteriorated, and unfortunately, she died.
• There was no resident medical officer or any other doctor to look after the patient in the absence of treating doctor.
• Absence of treating doctor was pre-planned and therefore, the patient ought not to have been admitted in her absence.
• Except checking pulse and blood pressure, no other tests were performed on the patient."
• Learned Senior Counsel submitted that this would be a case of 304(A).
"304A. Causing death by negligence —Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both."
• The court said, "...An error in diagnosis could be negligence and covered under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code. But this is a case of prescription without diagnosis and therefore, culpable negligence..."
The court stated that "...Prescription without diagnosis would amount to culpable negligence..."