In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court maintained its stance on a two-decade-old consumer case involving a pediatrician. The court refused to interfere with the clean chit given to the doctor, highlighting the parents’ role in the child’s health negligence.
Negligence Amidst Persistent Fever
The court revealed details of the case, emphasizing that the child was taken to the pediatrician after 45 days of persistent fever in 2002. Diagnosed with meningitis that resulted in eyesight damage, the court questioned the delay, putting responsibility on the parents for negligence.
Court’s Observation Doctors and Parental Accountability
Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan asserted that blaming doctors becomes untenable when parents exhibit prolonged negligence in seeking medical attention for their children. The bench questioned why the child was not taken to the doctor sooner and held the parents accountable for the delayed response.
Legal Arguments and Counterarguments
Advocate Namrata Chandorkar, representing the parents, argued that the doctor was aware of the medical history but failed in timely and suitable treatment. The court countered, highlighting the responsibility of parents in seeking prompt medical help and asserted that blaming the doctor solely for negligence was unfounded.
Refusal to Restore Damages
The lawyer sought the restoration of the 2013 order directing the doctor to pay ₹2 lakh as damages. However, the bench remained unconvinced, expressing concerns about reinstating the charge of medical negligence against the doctor, asserting that no doctor should carry such a stigma.
Commission’s Decision and Medical Reasoning
The National Consumer Commission, in its March decision, concluded that medical negligence couldn’t be attributed to the doctor. It highlighted proper diagnosis, investigation, and timely referral to a specialist. The commission deemed the initial prescription for antibiotics and antipyretics appropriate, considering the absence of clear signs of meningitis.
Winding it up
The court’s decision underscores the complex interplay of parental responsibility and medical judgment in cases of prolonged illnesses. It reinforces the principle that doctors cannot bear sole blame when parents contribute to delayed medical intervention, impacting the course of treatment.