The doctor’s service is under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, the Supreme Court’s big decision in favor of patients.
The medical profession is regarded as a respected profession, but it has been scrutinized on numerous occasions, as have all those who work in it. Medical negligence is considered one of the most pressing problems, not only in our country, but worldwide. The main reason is that numerous cases have been reported in which an underqualified medical professional has been investigated for failing to take reasonable care during an operation, diagnosis, or other procedure.
While dismissing a special leave petition challenging a Bombay High Court order on Friday, the Supreme Court noted that healthcare services provided by doctors are not excluded from the scope of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
The appeal was filed against a Bombay High Court order in which the Medicos Legal Action Group had asked the court to declare that services provided by healthcare service providers are not covered by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and to direct all consumer fora within the court’s territorial jurisdiction not to accept complaints filed under the 2019 Act against healthcare service
The Consumer Protection Act covers healthcare services provided by doctors, according to the Supreme Court. As a consumer, the patient has the right to file a complaint against the doctor. The Medico Legal Action Group had challenged the Bombay High Court’s order, claiming that under the Consumer Protection Act, a consumer cannot file a complaint against a doctor. During the hearing, Judge DY Chandrachud said that the term “services” is broad enough to include health services provided by the doctor. A senior advocate representing the petitioner organization, Siddharth Luthra, referred to a minister’s parliamentary speech on healthcare services not being included in it.
Justice DY Chandrachud responded that the speech had no bearing on the 2019 Act’s scope. He went on to say that it is implicit in the act’s broader definition of “service.” The Supreme Court ruled that if the health-care system is to be exempt from the law, it must be specified in the legislation enacted by Parliament. Only by repealing the old law and replacing it with a new one in 2019 can the doctor’s services be excluded from the scope of the Act.
The Supreme Court ruled that if the health-care system is to be exempt from the law, it must be specified in the legislation enacted by Parliament.
The petitioner’s application had previously been dismissed by the Bombay High Court, which held that healthcare services provided by doctors are covered by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. A demand to set aside the High Court’s decision was made in an application filed in the Supreme Court against this decision.
According to the petitioner, a consumer cannot file a complaint against a doctor under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019. Siddharth Luthra, the petitioner’s counsel, argued that the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 did not fall within the scope of service as defined by the Health Care Act. The proposal to include it in the 2019 law was also dropped.
The minister stated that healthcare services are not included in the definition. The scope of service, according to the bench led by Justice Chandrachud, is very broad. Only by repealing the 1986 law and enacting a new law in 2019 can a doctor be exempt from the Act. If Parliament had to make an exception, it would have to do so in the Act. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, upholding the decision of the High Court.
The high court stated that there is little reason to believe that services provided by doctors in lieu of fees or charges are outside the scope of the 2019 Act. The organization had been fined Rs 50,000 by the high court.
Medical Malpractice Remedy
A person who has been harmed by a medical practitioner can file a complaint of negligence with the State Medical Council, which has the authority to take action against the doctor by suspending or cancelling his registration. The Indian Medical Council Act of 1956, on the other hand, does not give them the authority to compensate the injured party.
The accused must file a complaint with the council, detailing all of the facts and relevant details of the case at hand. After that, the council will give the accused 30 days to respond. If the council is not satisfied with the response, both parties will be required to present evidence to back up their claims.
A person who has been wronged can file a complaint with the consumer courts against the accused and the hospital. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held in Indian Medical Association vs. V.P. Santha6 that doctors are covered by the Consumer Protection Act 1986 and that the medical services they provide should be treated as services under section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Similarly, medical services will fall under the scope of services as defined in section 2 (42) of the new Consumer Protection Act of 2019. Under section 42(11) of the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019, any matter involving medical negligence on the part of the service provider will be considered a deficiency.
Any person who has been harmed by medical malpractice can sue a doctor or a hospital for damages. According to Section 69(1) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the time limit for filing a complaint for medical negligence is 2 years from the date of injury.
The aggrieved party will first file a complaint against the concerned person or persons with the local police authority. The aggrieved party can file a criminal complaint under the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 if no action is taken.
Patients who are in pain seek treatment from doctors with the simple hope of a quick recovery. However, there are times when treatment does not go as planned, whether as a result of the natural course of life or due to the fault of the doctor. One thing to keep in mind is that they, too, are humans who are prone to making mistakes.
On the other hand, any harm caused by a doctor’s or medical staff’s negligence will be held liable. Any person who has been harmed as a result of medical malpractice should seek compensation from the authorities/courts listed above.