Opinion And Findings of MCI With Regards To Doctors' Professional Conduct Have Great Relevance - Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in a medical negligence case has held that the opinion and findings of the Medical Council of India (MCI) with regards to the professional conduct of the doctors' have great relevance.
A three-judge bench of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, and Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha in this context, opined, "So far as present proceedings are concerned, as they arise out of a claim for compensation on the basis of medical negligence, the opinion and findings of the MCI regarding the professional conduct of Respondent 1 have great relevance."
In this case, Harnek Singh, the appellant filed a consumer complaint before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) for medical negligence and deficiency of services against the Doctors(Respondents 1 &3) and the Hospital(Respondents 2&4) praying for monetary compensation of Rs. 62,85,160.
The SCDRC exonerated Respondents 3 and 4 and allowed the complaint against Respondents 1 and 2 holding them guilty of medical negligence and directed them to pay a joint compensation of Rs 15,44,000 and Rs 10,000 severally as costs.
While the proceedings were pending before SCDRC, the complainant also made a complaint to the State Medical Council against the professional misconduct by the respondents ( 1&3). The state Medical Council dismissed the complaint after which the complainant made an appeal to the Medical Council of India(MCI). After considering the appeal, the MCI presented the respondent before the Ethics Committee where Respondent 3 was exonerated and Respondent No.1 was held Guilty of medical negligence. The Ethics Committee issued a strict warning to the Respondent to be more careful during the procedures and to be more diligent in treating and monitoring his patients during and after the operation.
Subsequently, an appeal was made before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) against the order of the SCDRC. The NCDRC allowed the appeal of the opposite parties and set aside the order of the SCDRC holding that the negligence could not be proved on part of Respondents 1 & 2 by the complainant.
This case is an appeal by the complainant before the Supreme Court against the order of the NCDRC.
The main issue, in this case, was whether the complainant has established professional negligence on part of the Respondents as per the standards governing the duty to care of a medical practitioner.
Mr. Raj Kiran Talwar, Counsel on behalf of the appellant contended that the NCDRC gave the decision without considering the findings of MCI and prayed for the order of NCDRC to be set aside.
While Dr. Sushil Kumar Gupta and Ms. Suruchi Suri, Counsel on behalf of the Respondents opposed and contented against the appeal.
The Bench of the Supreme Court noted that there were sufficient indicators for diligent professionals, to detect and take immediate steps for restitution and instead of examining the material on record.
"NCDRC was satisfied with the raising and rejecting the plea of res ipsa loquitur and holding that no sensible professional would intentionally commit such an act to cause an injury," the Court held.
The Bench also observed that the NCDRC did not even refer to the report of MCI.
The Court held that "So far this present proceedings are concerned, as there are rays out for a claim of compensation on the basis of medical negligence the opinion and findings of the MCI regarding the professional conduct of Respondent 1 have great relevance."
The Court held the Respondents guilty of medical negligence and deficiency of services. It held that "NCDRC Has committed an error in reversing the findings of SCDRC And not adverting to the evidence on record including the reports of the MCI. The decision of the NCDRC deserves to be set aside an we hold that the complainants have made out a case of medical negligence against the respondents one and two and are entitled to seek compensation on the ground or deficiency of service."
The Supreme Court while relying on the report of the MCI allowed the appeal and dismissed the order of the NCDRC and directed the respondents to pay the complainants a compensation of 25 lacs with an interest of 6% per annum from the date of SCDRC's order.