SC: Can’t blame doctors when parents are lax | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC: Can’t blame doctors when parents are lax

By, New delhi
Dec 06, 2023 05:12 AM IST

The court refused to interfere with a clean chit given to a pediatrician in a two-decade old consumer case

Doctors cannot be blamed when parents remain negligent about their children’s health conditions for an inordinate period, the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday, as it refused to interfere with a clean chit given to a pediatrician in a two-decade old consumer case.

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

A bench of justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan noted that the parents had taken the two-year-old child to the pediatrician in Kanpur in January 2002 after the toddler had persistent fever for the previous 45 days. The child was finally diagnosed with meningitis that damaged his eyesight.

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“You waited for 45 days to take such a small child to a doctor, and you claim the doctor was negligent? Why did you not take the child after a week or so? We are saying it that if anyone is negligent here, it is you – the parents,” the bench told advocate Namrata Chandorkar, who was appearing for the parents of the child, who is now 23-year-old.

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The lawyer replied that the doctor was aware of the medical history of the patient, complaining that valuable time was lost by the doctor in treating the child with antibiotics and antimalarial drugs. Chandorkar added that the doctor failed to advise suitable pathological tests for diagnosing the serious disease, besides first treating the child for malaria.

But the bench retorted: “How can you solely blame the doctor after letting the child have fever for 45 days? The infection must have set in by the time you took him to the doctor. This is not a case where you can blame the doctor for being negligent.”

With the writing on the wall, the lawyer requested the bench to restore the 2013 order of the Kanpur district consumer forum that asked the doctor to pay 2 lakh as damages.

But the bench remained unconvinced. “Restoring the order of the consumer forum would mean restoring the charge of medical negligence against the doctor. No doctor wants such a stigma,” said the court, refusing to interfere with the decision of the national consumer commission in March.

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The commission in its order held that medical negligence could not be attributed to the doctor since the prescriptions and other reports brought on record show that the patient was investigated, diagnosed properly and, at the appropriate time, referred to a specialist.

“To start with, for fever, the doctor usually initially prescribes antibiotics and antipyretics. No reasonable doctor will suspect it as meningitis directly unless the patient shows clinical signs of meningitis. Therefore, it does not constitute medical negligence,” the commission’s order in March stated.

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