Criminal Liabilities In Medical Profession
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Ignorance of the law is never an excuse especially when it comes to the medical profession, the doctors are under tremendous pressure to perform at the best of their ability and follow the lawsuit in general as their performance reflects if the patient would be cured or saved. They have certain civil and criminal responsibilities.
But, the double-edged sword of treatment burden, death of a patient, and medical errors are always hanging above the head of doctors. The doctors have to outperform and exceed their expectations but the truth lies within that the death can never be controlled by anyone.
If found guilty, doctors are criminally liable under these circumstances:
A] Evidence and Record:
Non-attendance in the obedience of an order from a doctor
A doctor is legally bound to appear in court or in front of the magistrate if he/she is in relation with that case. Failure to do so could be found guilty under this section.
Failure to produce the document by the legally bounded person
A doctor is bound to produce all documents (e.g. medical reports or treatment record) in case of the medico-legal case. Failure to do so can result in the offence of laws under this section.
Omission to provide notice or information to public servant by legally bounded person
A doctor is bound to inform police about the medico legal, murder case, or a rape case which is admitted in their dispensary or hospital. If he/she fails to do so they are then liable under this section
Not assisting the public servant when bound by the law to provide the required assistance
A doctor if he/she fails to treat a patient or public servant allotted to him, then the doctor is guilty under this section.
Fabricating false evidence
A doctor or a medical professional in any circumstance produces false evidence, makes a false entry in the book, false statement, then he is criminally liable under this act.
Issuing or signing a false certificate
A doctor in any way is not allowed to issue or sign a certificate which is intentionally constructed for a false manner.
Forged document or electronic record
A document which is made partly or completely by forgery is legally not allowed in the court of law and such acts will be liable under this section
Using a forged document as a genuine document
Doctors at any cost are not allowed to utilize forged documents like an original document for whatever reason, in such cases he/she is liable under this section
B] Laws on Public Health, Safety and Drugs:
Negligence resulting in the spread of infectious diseases
The medical professionals are liable to follow strict standards which are set for treating patients under the guidelines and protocols especially for dangerous diseases like AIDS, Hepatitis etc.
Malignancy resulting into the spread of infectious diseases
The medical professionals are not allowed to act malignantly in any case, such acts would be strictly taken into action under this section
The medical professionals aren’t allowed to adulterate any medical preparation which arbitrarily affects the efficiency and safety of the drug rendering it useless. If found guilty, such professionals are liable under this act.
Sale of drugs as a different drug or preparation
The medical practitioners aren’t allowed to retail drugs with their own formulation. All drugs which are liable to sale should be duly approved by the regulatory authorities. If found liable such individuals would have to face stern action under this section.
Making the work atmosphere unreliable to work
The medical practitioner caught violating the norms of the general practice that intoxicates the work environment on a large scale are liable under this act.
Negligence while handling a poisonous substance
If the medical practitioner, due to any unforeseen reason is involved in providing a poisonous or toxic substance to the patient which can endanger the life, such practitioners are liable under this section.
Negligence in handling medical devices
The medical practitioner needs to be very careful while handling medical devices, if any sort of negligence occurs in any circumstance it could lead to serious complications under this section.
C] Laws in relation to endangering life:
Endangering the life or personal safety of others
Act performed with negligent intentions which proceeds to endanger their life or personal safety.
Hurting life or personal safety of others
A procedure performed which harms human life or personal safety.
Hurting grievously or personal safety of others
An act which is responsible for grievously hurting someone which proceeds to endanger their life or personal safety
D] Laws in relation to indoor patients:
A medical practitioner is not allowed to wrongfully restrain a person from his/her rights in a manner as to limit the medical proceedings further. It is totally unlawful to confine a person, withhold discharge for any given reason or withhold handing of the dead body due to payment disputes.
E] Laws governing death due to negligence:
Causing death due to negligence
The medical practitioner who is found guilty of causing death due to medical negligence can be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or both. In this section, the Supreme Court of India is of the view that the situation should be very carefully analysed while imposing criminal offences on doctors under this section.
Finally, it needs to be remembered that establishing a strong doctor-patient relationship could assist in many ways. In any case, more time you spend with your patient in your consulting room, it might reduce your time in the courtroom.
Source- Textbook on Medicolegal Issues
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Do you think, criminal liabilities be included in the medical curriculum for avoiding lawsuits?