The Medical Profession in many countries comes under the ambit of Consumer Protection Act. And when the medical deaths are on increase and people conscious of their rights, under these circumstances, the doctors need to be very cautious in guarding themselves and the profession.
One such precaution for the doctors is whether they can provide consultation over e-mail or telephone?
It is said that if a doctor provides consultation over e-mail or telephone, he can be liable, if there is any negligence while treating the patient. Legal pundits advise that doctors should avoid providing such consultations, unless they are already treating the patient and are aware of all aspects of the case. In respect of new cases, the doctor should not prescribe without seeing the patient physically.
Again, without seeing a patient, the doctors should not prescribe the medicines. “Don’t ever repeat a prescription at all unless you have seen the patient physically. The patient may not have been in the city on that day’’, warn legal experts.
Similarly, without seeing the patient, doctors should not provide medical certificates, as physical presence of the person is important. A family may seek the certificate for the purpose of avoiding a court appearance.
In case of a suspected suicide where the relatives don’t want to have a Medico Legal Case (MLC) filed, what should the doctor do?
Police should be informed as the doctor will have no defence if the person dies later.
There is no denying the fact that death on account of alleged negligence does take place at times, but at the same time it is a fact that each and every doctor is a human-being and is liable to make mistakes. Statistics reveal that medical negligence is always a deficiency either of omission or of commission of something which an average medical professional would not have done under ordinary circumstances.
The best way to avoid any medical negligence is for the doctor to take precautions, interact better with patients or their relatives, maintain confidentiality and obtain informed consent, wherever required. When a conflict arises between ethical and legal aspects, the legal aspects will prevail over ethical aspects.