CHENNAI: Will negligence on the part of a medical practitioner per se amount to professional misconduct?
Justice V Ramasubramanian of the Madras High Court held this in the affirmative while disposing of a writ petition from a patient alleging deficiency in service against a leading private hospital in the city.
The Tamil Nadu Medical Council submitted that it can proceed only against individual doctors facing charge s of negligence. It cannot enquire on complaints alleging professional misconduct, it added.
The judge observed that the contention that negligence per se may not amount to a professional misconduct cannot be accepted.
Chapter 7 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics)
Regulations lists certain acts of commission and omission on the part of a physician as constituting professional misconduct. Therefore, in the light of the Regulations, the state medical council can look into the complaint of the petitioner.
“I do not think any prejudice will be caused to the MIOT Hospital by directing the council to consider the complaint of the petitioner,” the judge said and accordingly, directed it to take a decision, one way or the other, on the complaint.
In his complaint, Vijay Irudayaraj (35), alleged that due to medical negligence, he had acquired a permanent disability, requiring continuous treatment for the past several years at the rate of Rs 50,000 per month.
His counsel Vijayalakshmi K Rajarathinam submitted that Irudayaraj, permanently settled in the US, came down to Chennai on a vacation in February 2008. He was unable to get up and move his limbs on March 9. He was admitted in MIOT at 10 am the same day. But, no doctor attended on him till 3 pm. Therefore, his father discharged him after paying Rs 40,000 and admitted him in another private hospital, where he underwent a neuro surgery. As a result, he has become a person with permanent disability. Complaining that the doctors at the MIOT hospital failed to make an appropriate diagnosis within the golden hour, the petitioner complained to the TN MCI. As there was no response, he filed the present petition, Vijayalakshmi added.
MIOT Hospital contended that there was no medical negligence on its part. The petitioner was given proper treatment. His father got the son discharged against medical advice.
The judge also said that it was true that the council has no control over hospitals, as they do not become the members of the council.