Medical Professionals Cannot Be Held Negligent Merely Because The Treatment Is Not Successful Or Patient Dies During Surgery: Supreme Court

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Medical Professionals Cannot Be Held Negligent Merely Because The Treatment Is Not Successful Or Patient Dies During Surgery

Case: Dr. Harish Kumar Khurana vs. Joginder Singh

Coram: Justices Hemant Gupta and AS Bopanna

Case No: CA 7380 OF 2009

Court Observation: “It is clear that in every case where the treatment is not successful or the patient dies during surgery, it cannot be automatically assumed that the medical Page 13 of 27 professional was negligent. To indicate negligence there should be material available on record or else appropriate medical evidence should be tendered. The negligence alleged should be so glaring, in which event the principle of res ipsa loquitur could be made applicable and not based on perception. In the instant case, apart from the allegations made by the claimants before the NCDRC both in the complaint and in the affidavit filed in the proceedings, there is no other medical evidence tendered by the complainant to indicate negligence on the part of the doctors who, on their own behalf had explained their position relating to the medical process in their affidavit to explain there was no negligence.”

23. In the above circumstance when there was no medical evidence available before the NCDRC on the crucial medical aspect which required such opinion, the mere reliance placed on the magisterial enquiry would not be sufficient. Though the opinion of the civil surgeon who was a member of the committee is contained in the report, the same cannot be taken as conclusive since such report does not have the statutory flavour nor was the civil surgeon who had tendered his opinion available for cross­ examination or seeking answers by way of interrogatories on the medical aspects. Therefore, if all these aspects are kept in view, the correctness or otherwise of the line of treatment and the decision to conduct the operation and the method followed were all required to be considered in the background of the medical evidence in the particular facts of this case. As indicated, the mere legal principles and the general standard of assessment was not sufficient in a matter of the present nature when the very same patient in the same setup had undergone a successful operation conducted by the same team of doctors. Hence, the conclusion as reached by the NCDRC is not sustainable.”

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Medical Professionals, Negligent,