Here is the compilation of 50 Landmark Judgments over Medical Negligence

Basdev Vs. State of PEPSU, 1956

Motive is something, which prompts a man to form an intention and knowledge is an awareness of the consequences of the act. Court held in this case that absence of motive is no defense in a criminal prosecution for the medical negligence. The motive cannot be a root for the criminal liability nor for immunity from such liability.


 Juggankhan Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1965) 1 SCR 14

 In this case, the accused, a registered Homeopath, administered 24 drops of stramonium and a leaf of dhatura to the patient suffering from guinea worm. The accused had no knowledge of the effect of such substance being administered and yet he did so. The inference of the accused being guilty of rash and negligent act was drawn against him. The Court held that the principle which emerges is that a doctor who administers a medicine known to or used in a particular branch of medical profession impliedly declares that he has knowledge of that branch of science and if he does not, in fact, possess that knowledge, he is prima facie acting with rashness or negligence.


Dr. Laxman Balkrishna Joshi Vs.Dr. Trimbak Bapu Godbole and Anr. 1969

In this landmark judgment, the Supreme court, in appeal by Special Leave Petition considered the significant question of liability of doctors for their negligence act towards his patients and held that a breach of any duty of medical practitioner gives a right to take an action against him for medical negligence to the patients. But the complainant must prove the allegation by citing a proper evidence in medical science and by presenting expert opinion. Doctors must exercise a reasonable duty of care. Neither very low nor very high degree of care, is what the law require.


Pt. Parmanand Katara Vs. Union of India & Ors, (1989) SC 2039

 In this case, Supreme Court ruled that every citizen brought for the treatment should immediately be provided medical aid to preserve his life. As Article 21 of Indian Constitution casts an obligation on the state to preserve life. There is a fact that once life is lost, the status quo ante cannot be restored as renaissance is beyond the capacity of men. Appropriate compensation should be admissible in case of any medical negligence.


A.S Mittal and others Vs. State of U.P and Others, 1989

The necessity of maintenance of higher standard of aseptic and Sterlite condition was pointed out in this case by the Supreme Court at places where surgery is conducted. Court also directed for the Legal Aid and Advice board of U.P to take up the issue whether the victims are eligible for the pension’s benefit under any existing scheme of government.


General Manager Kerala state Road Transport Corporation Vs. Susamma Thomas (1994) SC 1631

 There was an observation in the case of Multiplier method further explained, made by a Supreme Court that “in a lethal accident action, the accepted measure of damages awarded to the dependants is the pecuniary loss suffer by them as a result of death”. There is an observation of Lord WRIGHT in Daviesvs.Powell Duffryn Associated Colleries Ltd. referred by the Supreme Court as an answer to the question of that how much has the widow and family lost by the father’s death?


Indian Medical Association Vs. V.P Shantha AIR 1995 SC 550

 Doctors in India may be liable for their services unless they come under the exception specified in this case. A three judges bench of Supreme Court had announced in its judgement that the doctors cannot be held liable for their services if they do not charge fees to patients. Any kind of free treatment at governmental, non-governmental hospitals, dispensary/nursing/health centre would not be considered a ‘Service’ as defined under section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.


Consumer Unity and Trust Society, Jaipur Vs. Chairman and Managing Director, Bank of Baroda (1995) SCC 150

In Case “where the loss or injury caused but negligence is not proved, or where negligence is proved but loss or injury is not established no compensation can be granted held by the Supreme Court. Further if loss or injury and negligence as well are proved, unless another essential ingredient, nexus between the two requirements also established, no compensation can be awarded”.


Poonam Verma Vs. Ashwin Patel and Others, 1996

In this case, Supreme Court reversed the order of National Commission and awarded a compensation for the negligence cause by the doctor. Court held that treating a patient by allopathic method by the practitioner registered as Homeopathic Practitioner without being qualified in that system is guilty of negligence per se and therefore doctor will be liable at law for all the consequences of his negligence.


 Common cause Vs. Union of India, 1996

   A petition filed through PIL under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution for serious deficiencies in the matter of blood bank.

    In this case, Supreme Court gave following directions aimed at overcoming the deficiencies in the operation of blood banks.

  • The union Government shall take an appropriate step to establish National Council of Blood Transfusion registered under the Societies Registration Act.
  • The Government of India shall provide the basic requirements of funds for the functioning of the National Council.
  • The fund for the State Council shall provide for the Union of India.
  • The State Council should have its headquarters at the premises of the medical institute/hospitals.
  • A step for starting an institution for collection, processing, storage, distribution of human blood.
  • It will be open to the Director General of Health Services, Government of India, National Council to seek out alteration of these directions.

Achutrao Haribhau Khodwa and others Vs. State of Maharashtra and others, AIR 1996

This is a case of medical negligence by Government hospital in which Supreme court applied the doctrine of “res ispa loquiter” (thing speaks for itself) where sterilization operation normally had done under anaesthesia but because of some complications, another operation was also performed due to which patient died. After scrutinize the case, it was found that a mop was left inside her peritoneal cavity due to negligence of doctors during first operation which ultimately caused her death. It was held by the court in this case that the state is vicariously liable for the negligent acts of the doctors and its other employee.


Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti and others Vs. State of West Bengal, 1996 4 SCC 37

In this case, the court was already pronounced the right to health of a citizen as a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India. It was held in this case that all the government Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Poly-clinics are liable to provide treatment to the best of their capacity to all the patients. Direction given by the Supreme Court to the state government for emergency cases;

  1. Adequate facility at Primary Health Centre for immediate primary treatment.
  2. Hospitals at the District level and Sub-Division Level should be upgraded for serious cases.
  3. Special treatment facility should be increased.
  4. Proper arrangements of Ambulance are immediately provided with necessary equipment.

M/S. Spring Meadows Hospital & Anr. Vs. Harjol Ahluwalia through, K.S Ahluwalia & Anr. 1998

The National Commission Held that the child had suffered from Cardiac arrest and the cause of such cardiac arrest was the injection of lariago of high dose and on the account of delay in reviving the heart, the brain of the minor child got damaged. It showed a clear negligence of duty on the part of the nurse (unqualified nurse). In this present case doctor was negligent for permitting her to give injection and nurse were employee of the hospital therefore, the hospital was responsible for all the consequences of the negligence. The Commission awarded the compensation to the minor patient. Supreme court was also agreed with the ruling of the National Commission.  


Sethuraman Subramanian Lyer Vs. Trivedi Nursing Home and Anr., 1998

Held by the National Commission that in case if patient developed some medical complications during a minor surgery to cure sinusitis which resulted in cardiac arrest, found that negligence was not established in absence of any expert witness.


Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences Vs. Prasanth S. Dhananka & Ors,  (1999) CPJ 43 (NC)

In this case, the Supreme Court held that, “moreover, in a case involving medical negligence, once the initial burden has been discharged by the complainant by making out a case of negligence on the part of the hospital or doctor concerned, the onus then shifts on to the hospital or to the attending doctors and it is for the hospital to satisfy the court that there was no lack of care or diligence”.


State of Haryana and Others Vs. Smt. Santra, 2000

In this case, the medical officer delegated with the implementation of programme (Famliy planning) launched by government, cannot, by their negligent act in not performing the complete sterilization operation, sabotage the scheme of national importance. In this case Santra was under monetary burden having seven children wanted total sterilization but doctor did not perform his duty with due care and caution due to which she suffer mental pain and agony held entitled to get damages from both the doctor and the state government.


Vinitha Ashok Vs. Lakshmi Hospital and Others, 2001

The National Commission and the Supreme Court accepted the expert opinion for the use of laminaria test in dilation of cervix was standard procedures. Supreme Court also considered the decision of House of Lords, Bolitho, 1997 which held that the expert evidence can be considered as proper. There might be a situation where expert opinion could not be relied. Court held that “they cannot dismiss the opinion of doctors to the contrary as being in illogical”.     


S.K Lyenger Vs. Bombay Hospital, 2001

False allegation had been made by the claimant in this case that his mother was not kept in the ICU for the post-operative care. Even surgery involved a risk were explained to Mr. Lyenger and he was fully aware of all the consequences.

State Commission and National Commission dismissed his complaint on the ground that there was no negligence made by the Bombay Hospital which already provided proper treatment and care.


Dr. J.J Merchant Vs. Shrinath Chaturvedi, 2002

A petition filed for the dismissal of complaint of claimant for medical negligence before the National Commission by stating that arise question of law in such complain can best decided by the Civil court only. After examining the Act and provisions, three-judges-bench of the Supreme court held that “the Consumer Fora were competent to decide the complicated issues of law and it would be wrong to assume that justice cannot be done under the Consumer Protection Act”.

Supreme court also suggested some procedure to the National Commission that it should take some appropriate steps for avoiding delay in disposal.


Mr. ‘X’ Vs. Hospital ‘Z’ 2003

In this case National commission dismissed the petition of petitioner as the names of the parties were requested not to be disclosed because of involving a HIV positive report. Further, a Special Leave Petition filed before Supreme court also get dismissed holding that revealing the HIV positive status to his fiancée is not unfair in any manner as he intended to marry her and she had a right to know.


Rukmani Vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 2003

Madras High Court directs the parties to civil court to prove negligence in present case and also follow the principle in the case of State of Haryana vs Santra, held that the state is vicariously liable for the negligence of doctors. Further, declined the grant relief and give direction to the parties to initiate proceedings in civil court or consumer forum to prove negligence by citing best evidence on the part of the doctors.


Dr. Suresh Gupta Vs. Government of NCT of Delhi and Anr. 2004

Rulling of Apex Court “Mere carelessness or some degree of want of adequate care and caution might create civil liability but would not be sufficient to hold him criminal liability”. 

In the case of alleged criminal offence against doctor causing death during treatment of the patient, court insisted that the act done by such doctor must show the negligence or rashness of a higher degree which may described apathetic towards the patient and such gross negligence alone will be punishable.


Jacob Mathew Vs. State of Punjab and Another AIR 2005

Supreme Court delivered two different opinion in this case on doctor’s liability. Also directed the central government to frame guiding principle to save medics from pointless annoyance and pressure in performing their duties. Until government framed strategies the following guidelines would prevail.

  1. Without Prima Facie evidence in the form of other competent doctor private complaints of negligence will not be entertained.
  2. Investigation officer should give an independent view for allegation made against doctors.
  3. If the investigation officer believes then only doctors may be arrested.

 


Sheela Hirba Naik Gaunekar Vs. Apollo Hospitals Ltd. Chennai, 2005

The Commission held that a post-operating treatment is equally important. A resident doctor was in-charge of the patient did not conduct any ECG on the patient after complaining continuously about dizziness. And one day she had fall in the toilet.

The commission held that there was an absence of reason for doctor not to carry out an ECG. Complication may arise at any time therefore it is necessary to provide proper care. In the present case, hospital was ordered to pay compensation as it held liable for deficiency in service. 


K.L Bhola Vs. Khera Hospital and Others, 2005

This is case of Unfair Trade Practice by Medical Professional where the opposite party were held liable to pay compensation for adopted an unfair trade practice by making a false representation about the patient’s disease.


Pravat Kumar Mukherjee Vs. Ruby General Hospital, 2005

It is held that discontinuous of behavior in critical cases affects adversely and itself is deficiency in service. There may be a situation that a surgeon is not bound to treat every patient. But in a critical situation, it is a responsibility of that surgeon to be attentive if close kinsfolks of the patient are not available.

It is clear from this judgment that an injured citizen brought for medical treatment should be provides medical aid irrespective of the consent for treatment. “Fee can wait, Death cannot”.

 


State of Punjab Vs. Shivram, 2005

Cases in which despite sterilization operations women who are pregnant and gave birth to child and file a complaint against the surgeon/hospitals for failure of that operation will not be treated as medical negligence holding that there is no prevalent technique of sterilization which guaranteed hundred per cent success.

Supreme court clearly mentioned that

               “The causes of failure can well be attributed to the natural functioning of the human body and not necessarily attributed to any failure on the part of the surgeon”.


P.B Rao Vs. Dr. S. Sundar, 2006

In this case, complaint was dismissed as sufficient grounds for deficiency in service and medical negligence were not established against the doctor. The doctor submitted all its report and established that the patient is died due to internal condition and fact that it was a high-risk kidney transplant treatment. The Commission also observed that it was unfortunate that the patient died.

 


Dr. Paramjit Singh Grewal Vs. Charanjit Singh Chawla, 2007                                                          

National Commission observed in this case that document related to medical should be available to each patient at any time without any cry. It is a patient’s Right to Know that how his case has been dealt by the doctors and duty of doctors to state in record all the details of the treatment, medicines, advice which are prescribed to patient. There is right of patient to get the medical record and he cannot be denied if he has paid the doctor/hospital for his treatment.  


Nirmal Kumar Jain Vs. Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, 2007

In this case, Lumber Puncture(LP) was done lacking administering local anaesthesia by an Assistant Neurologist which was a gross negligence. Although, she was in a super specialty ICU. Later on, she was bleeding through the urine and that procedure resulted in pressure on her brain which put the girl into coma and finally died. Compensation was directed to her family along with a cost.


Nand Kishore Verma Vs. Batra Hospital & Medical Centre, 2007

The National Commission held in this case that it is the duty of the doctor to inform the patient about the side effects before prescribing a diabetic drug, especially to an alcoholic person. If it is not done, it will be considered as a deficiency in service. 


Dr. G. Vivekananda Varma Vs. Chintha Bharamaramba and Ors., 2007

This is a case of not arranging oxygen in time. The surgeon act in his nursing home but when patient had spasms oxygen was not arranged within the stipulated time period and was shifted to another hospital where he died then the doctors will be liable for negligence as held by the National Commission.


Smt. Saroj Chandhoke Vs. Gangaram Hospital,III (2007)  CPJ 189 (NC), original Petition No. 61 of 1996

 In this case, the National Commission held that although the motive has been bona fide, if the surgery is performed negligently or if any error is committed which an ordinary skilled person would not commit, it is deficiency in service. It states that if during the operation any mishap occurs because of error of judgment, it would be deficiency in service or negligence, if that would not have been committed by a reasonably professional man professing the standard and type of skill that a surgeon held out as having. 


Samira Kohli Vs. Dr. Prabha Manchanda and Anr., 2008

This case was filed against the order passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission for rejecting the complaint under section 21 of the Consumer Prsotection Act, 1986.

The Supreme Court clearly laid down the law that a doctor has to seek secure and specific consent from the patients for performing Hysterectomy and Salping Oophorectomy i.e. removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes. Unauthorized invasion and interference with the patient’s body amount to tortuous act of assault and battery and therefore, a deficiency in service.


St. Gregorious-Mission Hospital Vs. Roji George & ors., 2008

In this case, complainant approached the ENT surgeon for surgery on general anaesthesia because of having nasal problems. During surgery he lost his heart beats and due to the overdue of revival by doctors it caused brain damage. 

The National Commission observed that doctors showed inconsequence in treating by injecting local anaesthesia to the patient. There was no record disclosed by the doctor that it was as per accepted medical treatment. Anaesthetist was forgiven.          


Ramesh Chandra Agrawal Vs.Regency Hospital and Others, 2009                                             

In this case principle of law stated for necessity of expert evidence. Court will consider only those evidences which will enable it to reach a reliable conclusion. The expert evidence is admissible as it is necessary when there are medical issues to be settled. But, it is not the jurisdiction of expert to act as a judge. To furnish the judge with the essential scientific measures for testing the accuracy of the decision is only the duty of an expert witness.


Shri Manjunath Pathology Laboratory Vs. Smt. Meenakshi, 2009

A complaint made by a patient was dismissed by the District forum that her blood tests from Sri Manjunath Pathology Laboratory gave the report of HIV+ but second report showed HIV negative. Further, on appeal, the Sate Commission directed the laboratory to compensate her. Appeal was dismissed by the National Commission upholding the order of the state commission held that “one can imagine the trauma of patient, who is lady and pregnant too would have undergone, if anyone is told that she is HIV+ therefore, pathologist need to be very careful to give the results.


Marting F. D’Souza Vs. Mohd. Ishfaq, 2009

Mohd. Ishfaq who was already suffered from chronic renal failure and was awaiting kidney transplant, alleged that he suffered hearing impairment due to administration of anti-biotic ‘Amikacin’. National Commission awarded him compensation but on appeal of Dr. D’souza Supreme court ruled that “the doctor was facing a situation to choose between the devil and the deep sea”. They have to choose to save the life of the patient rather than his hearing. Court also observed that the Consumer For a must take an opinion of specialist before taking a decision.


Malay Kumar Ganguly Vs. Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, 2009

Checking the trend of verdicts that place total dependence upon expert evidence in medical negligence, Supreme Court, Ruled,

                “Any court is not bound by the evidences of an expert. The court must derive its conclusion upon considering the evidence”.

 


Dr. C.P Sreekumar, M.S (Ortho) Vs. S. Ramanujan, 2009

The Supreme Court re-iterated the observation of Jacoob Mathew’s case that “A simple deficiency of care, a blunder of judgment, and an accident is not any proof of negligence by the medical professionals. A doctor cannot be held liable for negligence because a better course of alternative or manner of cure was also available”.


Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research Vs. Jaspal Singh, 2009

Negligence was done on the part of doctors and staff of medical in transfusion blood of wrong group which caused death was held liable by the State Commission. And National Commission dismissed the appealed filed by the hospital. The Supreme Court held that “wrong blood transfusion is an error which no hospital exercising ordinary care would have made. Such an error would not be deemed an error of professional judgement but in very nature of things a sure instance of medical negligence”.

 


Kaushal Pandey (Dr.) Vs.S.VS. Panchori & Ors., 2009

It was opined by the National Commission that the surgeon ought to have sent stripped pleura for test and in not doing so the doctor did not apply “Ordinary degree of skill” expected of a professional and was guilty of negligence.


Mahadev Prasad Kaushik Vs. State of U.P. and Anr, (AIR 2009 SC 125)

A complaint of Section 304 IPC was lodged against the doctor. The court said that on every mishap or death during medical treatment, a medical man cannot be proceeded against in a Criminal Court. Thus, the court held that “ A professional may be held liable for negligence on one of two findings: either he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have possessed, or, he did not exercise, with reasonable competence in the given case, the skill which he did possess”.

 


Smt. & Shri Madhumoy Mukherjee Vs.M/S. Coal India & Hospital, IV (2009) CPJ 56 (NC).

In this case, the National Commission held that, doctors cannot be expect to know the medical history of the patient unless it known by the patient or their relative. With holding the material fact of the history of the patient to the doctor is inexcusable conduct of the patient. Doctors are subjected to mental torment in case their profession conduct is being questioned. Pre- medical history is a “MUST” to be produced before the doctor while availing their services. Non-disclosure of material fact to the doctor while seeking their services in our vision is atrocious.


Minor Margesh K. Parikh Vs. Dr. Mayur H. Mehta, 2010(10) UJ4872 (SC)

In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed the decision of the National Commission which held in favour of the doctor unfavourably, going so far as to refer to its decision as having resulted in “a failure of justice”. Further, the Court viewed the concealment of the appellant’s case papers, which would disclose vital information regarding the line of treatment, for over six years, as well as the significant delay in obtaining an affidavit from the doctor, as a possible attempt to mislead the Commission in making an informed decision. “A professional may be held liable for negligence on one of the two findings: either he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have possessed, or, he did not exercise, with reasonable competence in the given case.”

 


Surendra Kumar Tyagi S/o Trilok Chand Tyagi Ghaziabad Vs.  Jagat Nursing Home and Hospital, Meerut and another 2010 Indlaw NCDRC 259

The National Commission has held that in cases of medical negligence and deficiency in service, in treatment of a patient, damages are to be quantified under two heads - pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. Under pecuniary head, will be those damages, which can be quantified in terms of money i.e. actual expenditure incurred by the patient - complainant in getting the treatment or in the rectification of the deficient treatment, which he received as also for the resultant loss of business, etc. The non-pecuniary damages would be for the physical and mental pain and sufferings of the patient - complainant on account of such faulty treatment.

 


Mr. Kumar Vs.Vijay Kumar Srivastava, 2011

Complainant filed a case against doctor for his medical negligence in the District Forum. The complaint was dismissed by the District Forum holding that no x-ray and no expert evidence is given. Further, he appealed to the State Commission where it was held that Mr. Kumar (Dr.) is liable for establishing a false representation which is clearly revealed by his certificate, from Indian Board of Alternative Medicines, not recognized by the Dental Association.

State Commission held him liable for misleading and unfit trade practice and directed to pay compensation.

 


Dr. Kochar Vs. Ispita Seal ,(2011)                                                                  

In this case, National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) was confronted with the issue of failure in IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) procedure. The complainant in the case complained of failure in IVF procedure and demanded compensation from the doctor on account of medical negligence. The National Commission in the case held that “No cure/ no success is not a negligence”, thus fastening the liability upon the treating doctor is unjustified and the complaint was dismissed.


VS.N. Shrikhande Vs. Anita Sena Fernandes, (2011) 1 SCC 53

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, in this case has been observed that, District Forum, State Commission and the National Commission are not bound to admit each and every case. It was held that in cases of medical negligence, no straitjacket formula can be applied for determining as to when the cause of action has accrued to the consumer. The decision of the court sends a strong message against frivolous litigation and complainant sleeping over their rights.


Dr. Balram Prasad Vs. Dr. Kunal Saha and ors. , (2014) 1 SCC 384

The Appellant doctors and Hospital found the amount of compensation to be excessive and too hard so, the Court directed National Commission to determine just and reasonable compensation payable to the claimant. It was held that in Medical Negligence cases “Just Compensation” should be evaluated. Awarding insufficient compensation under different heads is unmaintainable in law and it is the duty of Tribunal/ Commission/ Court to consider relevant facts and circumstances of each and every case. While ascertaining compensation the scope of future prospects of income is to be decided by economic experts. The scope of “Multiplier Method” in assessing compensation, the court may choose to deviate from standard multiplier method to avoid over compensation and rely upon quantum of multiplicand to choose appropriate multiplier.