Claimants Cannot ‘Unnecessarily Harass’ Doctors, Rules SC

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has observed that doctors cannot be ‘unnecessarily harassed’ by patients or their claimants to pull out compensation for death or disability due to alleged medical negligence, reported PTI.

Maintaining that the interests of the patients should be paramount, a bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and H S Bedi said that was the bounden duty of the society to make sure that doctors carry out their duties without apprehension of malicious prosecution, said report.

“It is our bounden duty and obligation of the civil society to ensure that the medical professionals are not unnecessarily harassed or humiliated so that they can perform their professional duties without fear and apprehension.

“The medical practitioners at times also have to be saved from such a class of complainants who use criminal process as a tool for pressurizing the medical professionals/hospitals, particularly private hospitals or clinics, for extracting uncalled for compensation. Such malicious proceedings deserve to be discarded against the medical practitioners,” Justices Bhandari writing the judgement said.

The apex court’s observation came while rejecting the Rs 45-lakh compensation claim of Kusum Latha, widow of RK Sharma, Senior Operations Manager in Indian Oil Corporation’s Marketing Division, said report.

According to claimants, Sharma died because of negligence committed by doctors of Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre, said report.

On October 11, 1990, Sharma died of ‘pyogenic meningitis’ following a surgery to remove an encapsulated malignant tumour in the left adrenal on the abdominal side which involved a complicated procedure, said report.

Kusum Latha moved the National Consumer Disputes Redredssal Commission (NCDRC) with a plea for Rs 45 lakh compensation charging that the death occurred due to medical negligence. However, the commission rejected the plea following examination of various records. Latha, subsequently, moved the Supreme Court.

After scrutinizing records and hearing the parties, the apex court, too, noted that Latha could not establish the charge of negligence, said report.

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