Law related specifically to the hospitals

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 The act specifies the following considerations for terminating a pregnancy:

  • Health of mother( such as physical or mental health hazard to woman)
  • Eugenic causes( such as: substantial risk of child born with deformity or disease)
  • Humanitarian causes( such as rape resulting into conception)
  • Personal causes
  • To control illegal criminal abortions
  • As a family planning measure(such as: failure of contraceptive)

Under this act, MTP is permitted to be performed only in places approved by the government. The government 'b' form is needed to be displayed at such approved centre. These centres are required to have a safe and hygienic environment- operation table, surgical instruments, anaesthesia and resuscitation equipment, drugs and infusions.

The act permits the performance of MTP:

  1. for foetus up to 12 weeks of gestation, the opinion of one registered medical practitioner (rmp) suffices.
  2. for gestations between 12 and 20 weeks two rmps need to give their opinion for an acceptable indication for MTP.

Human Organ Transplantation Act 1994

A person can will donate upon his death his two eyes[cornea], two kidneys, heart and liver in addition to eardrum and ear bones. Transplantation of these human organs is being carried out world over for quite some time now. While the advanced countries have become more tuned towards organized cadaver organ transplantation progeammes, countries like ours are still running this programmer with live donors of some organs, in particular kidneys. This has led to flourishing of illegal organ retrieval and transplantation by doctors in unauthorized institutions, under lure of money with the help of middlemen.

Industrial Disputes Act 1947

This acts which was formulated initially for deciding industrial disputes only, it was also made applicable to hospitals and nursing homes by the supreme court. While deciding the bangalore water supply case, the court had ruled that: "the provisions of the industrial disputes act will be applied even to the hospital as it would fall within the definition of an industry; the process noted for the object for which the establishment is working is of no consequence."

Since the industrial disputes act is now applicable to all hospital/ nursing homes or individual establishments of doctors, the entire spectrum of labour laws applies to the medical profession. The persons employed in the hospital or nursing homes can now go to the labour department in case of a dispute and thereafter to labour court and industrial tribunal.

Law of Torts

Law of Torts is the law of compensation for accidents that involve the damage to the person or property for which a court may provide a remedy in the form of an action for damages. Tort cases are indirect laws based on civil judgments, which over the years- through cross references in cases of litigations – have acquired sanction equal to an enacted law.

Key concepts and guiding principles in tort cases:

  • Agreement to treat/ contact between a doctor and a patient
  • Failure of standard of care by the doctor
  • Occurrence of actual injury
  • Link between failure to keep standard of care and injury (proximate cause)

Patients bring litigations against the doctors thinking that the doctors have breached their duty to attain a certain standard of care[excluding willful, deliberate, outrageous conduct covered under sections 323 through 338 and even 304 a of ipc]. The courts ask the doctors to set their standard of care themselves. The jury usually decides in favor or against a doctor, after consideration of the following facts.

Law related specifically to the hospitals

  • was a medical history taken
  • What did the patient complain of?
  • What pain was he in?
  • Was he examined?
  • Was a risk assessment made?
  • Were all the options or alternatives considered?
  • Were the appropriate tests ordered?
  • Were the tests accurately carried out?
  • Were the results obtained with reasonable expedition?
  • Was the patient monitored and referred if he should have been?