Liability of Hospitals Under Consumer Protection Act, 1986.


Medical negligence gives rise to both civil and criminal liability. Civil wrongs an aggrieved party can bring a lawsuit for redress either through a litigation or through a complaint filed in a consumer tribunal. Since the promulgation of the Consumer Protection Act in 1986 there has been a significant increase in cases of medical negligence. The medical profession is a noble occupation. The relationship between the patient and the doctor is based on mutual trust and belief. The Consumer Protection Act is a very special and extremely inclusive piece of democratic law.

The health laws and the regulations are intended to provide customers with reliable and productive protections against different types of coercion and unequal trade. It is a handy weapon for consumers to ensure the accountability of service providers. Patients have begun to apply this Act when they are injured by medical negligence on the part of health care. Every doctor, irrespective of the place of duty, has a professional duty to extend his or her service to protect his or her life. Medical negligence means the failure to exercise reasonable skill in accordance with the general norms and the prevailing situations is referred to as medical negligence. The key purpose of this Act is to encourage and secure the interests of customers.

Medical Negligence

Medical negligence means failure to exercise reasonable skill in accordance with the general norms and the prevailing situations. It is also defined as lack of a reasonable degree of care and skill or intentional negligence on the part of medical practitioners in the treatment of a patient with whom the relationship of professional assistants had been established in order to result in injury to the body or permanent disability or loss of life. To prove negligence, the victimized consumer must prove to the court the following ingredients:

  1. The doctor has violated the duty of care,
  2. The doctor owed him the duty to take care of a particular standard of professional conduct,
  3. The patient (Plaintiff) suffered any injury as a result of the infringement and caused actual damage, and the conduct of the physician was directly and approximately the cause of damage.

Doctor owes certain responsibilities to patients who visit him for sickness or not feeling good, failure in duty results in neglect. Violation of duty involves failure to perform what a good doctor should do or what a rational doctor should not do, and though there is damage, the damage will be the actual and direct consequence of a breach of duty. It is now well established that the hospital and physician providing medical services are covered by the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. In the case of V. Kisan Rao v. Nikhil Super Specialty Hospital[1] Maxim resipsaloqiter, it is applicable to cases of medical negligence which give rise to a deficiency in medical services under sec. 2(1)(g) in which case the complainant is relieved of the obligation to prove anything else and the respondent is liable for proof that he has taken care and caution in the case of Maxim resipsaloqiter. In the case of neglect, the plaintiff may show that the doctor did not have the obligation of care alone, nor that he did not have the duty of care. Breach of duty to care means failure to perform the duty that a reasonable doctor would perform. It is also noted that, in the event of injury, the injury must be immediate and direct result of an infringement of duty. Doctors are accused of the death of patients without taking into account the limitations and handicaps they have in the performance of their duties.

Liability of Medical Services

It is noted that medical services are well within the scope of the Consumer Protection Act , 1986. By means of this Act, consumers can protect their interests against service deficiency. This Act does not specifically mention medical services, as referred to in Section 2(0) of the Consumer Protection Act, Services means services of any description.

It shall be rendered accessible to prospective users and shall involve the provision of facilities relating to banking, lending, insurance, shipping, manufacturing, supply of electrical or other electricity, boarding or lodging or both, accommodation, building, entertainment or news or entertainment but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under a personal service contract.

The Consumer Forums have started to offer redress to the aggrieved patients who have suffered from faulty medical care. Lucknow Development Authrity v. M. K. Gupta[2] observed that the term of ‘service’ has a number of interpretations, and that it can imply some gain or act arising from the pursuit of the value of happiness. They can be contractual, qualified, governmental, civil, regulatory, etc. The definition of service is therefore rather broad. In addition, any forum in which a case involving medical negligence is tried in any jurisdiction must take into account at least the following three considerations before taking a decision. These are the following:

  1. The method of lawful and disciplinary action must be strictly initiated on firm, virtuous and scientific grounds.
  2. Patients will be better treated if the actual causes of harm are correctly identified and properly addressed.
  3. Numerous incidents involve the contribution of more than one person, and it is more likely to hold the last discernible element in the chain of causation accountable and, in particular, to accuse that person of holding a ‘smoking gun.’


The Consumer Rights Act safeguards the needs of customers. It provides for a simplified procedure for the resolution of consumer complaints. By way of this Act, customers will defend their rights against service deficiencies. The Act provides a forum for victims of negligence or deficiency in medical services by providing cheap, prompt and effective remedies. The judges acknowledged that the judicial framework would do good to all patients and physicians. At the same time, consideration should be given to the fear of the medical profession and the legitimate claims of the patient.

[1] V. Kisan Rao v. Nikhil Super Specialty Hospital , 5 SCC 513, 2010.

[2] Lucknow Development Authrity v. M. K. Gupta, 71 SCC 243, 1994.

This Article is Authored by Anisha Bhandari, 2nd Year, B.A. LL.B (Hons.) Student of Institute of Law, Nirma University.

Also Read – What is Doctor’s Liability in Medical Negligence Cases?

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