The Supreme Court has held that doctors have a duty to inform patients about the adverse effects of a particular medicine prescribed by them or otherwise it might amount to medical negligence.
"The law on medical negligence also has to keep up with the advances in the medical science as to treatment as also diagnostics. Doctors increasingly must engage with patients during treatments especially when the line of treatment is a contested one and hazards are involved.
"Standard of care in such cases will involve the duty to disclose to patients about the risks of serious side effects or about alternative treatments," a bench of Justices SB Sinha and Deepak Verma observed.
The bench passed the observation while holding a prominent Kolkata hospital -- Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI) -- and four doctors guilty of "medical negligence" for causing the death of Anuradha, a 36-year-old US-based woman doctor who died in May 1998.
It imposed a penalty of Rs five lakh on the hospital and Rs one lakh on Dr Mukherjee who first administered her heavy doses of steroid -- 'Depomedrol'.
The apex court regretted that neither the hospital bothered to extend proper facilities nor the doctors followed established practices in treating the victim whose husband Dr Kunal Saha is also a professor in HIV research, working in the US. The doctor couple had come to India during a holiday when the tragic incident occurred.