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No telephonic consults please- You can go to Jail

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Dr KK Aggarwal    27 July 2018

Prescribing medicines without diagnosis is culpable negligence: Bombay HC

Press Trust of India: Observing that prescribing medicines to patients without diagnosis amounted to culpable negligence, the Bombay High Court has turned down the anticipatory bail pleas of a doctor couple booked for the death of a woman patient. The doctors have been booked by the Ratnagiri Police under section 304 of Indian Penal Code (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) after the patient died earlier this year.

“The high court noted that there was no effort to refer the woman to another doctor in the absence of Deepa Pawaskar and she (Deepa) continued to prescribe medicines telephonically.”

"There was no resident medical officer or any other doctor to look after the patient in the absence of Dr Deepa and Sanjeev Pawaskar even when the couple knew that they would not be available in the hospital,"

"Prescription without diagnosis would amount to culpable negligence. This amounts to gross negligence from the point of standard of care and recklessness and negligence, which is a tricky road to travel,"

The accused couple, in their pleas, argued that they could not be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and should, at the most, be booked under section 304 (A) (causing death due to negligence).

The high court, however, said that in the present case, the applicants took the risk of doing something with recklessness and indifference to the consequences.

"An error in diagnosis could be negligence and covered under section 304 (A) of the Indian Penal Code. But this is a case of prescription without diagnosis and, therefore, culpable negligence,"

"When a doctor fails in his duty, is it not tantamount to criminal negligence ? The courts cannot ignore the ethical nature of the medical law by liberally extending the legal protection to the medical professionals...,"

"Segregation of reckless and negligent doctors in the profession will go a great way in restoring the honour and prestige of large number of doctors and hospitals who are devoted to their profession and scrupulously follow the ethics and principles of the noble profession," (Excerpts from PTI News)

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