Medical Negligence: Definition and Meaning

Medical care providers commit medical negligence when they fall short of their ethical commitments. Every healthcare professional owes patients a responsibility of care. If they fail to perform that duty, it can be seen as medical malpractice. This might result in a malpractice claim in some situations, but not always.

What is "Negligence"?

Negligence means that the alleged injury was not intentionally caused. It refers to reckless or unreasonable behavior. Yet, even if it could be an offense punishable by law, simply being unreasonable without causing harm is not actionable. When such behavior is continued, it can hurt another person, giving rise to negligence liability. It should be noted that negligence can refer to either a standalone tort or a mental component of tortuous culpability.

The House of Lords recognized negligence as a separate tort in the 1932 decision of Donoghue v. Stevenson. In this scenario, negligence is viewed as a style of behavior rather than a particular mental state. Because concerns like duty, care, causation, and distance of injury must be considered in each individual case, the tort of negligence is therefore complex and flexible.

Medical Negligence

Medical malpractice is a complex tort. It puts the life of a patient who already needs care in grave peril. If the one person he puts his trust and confidence in turns out to be negligent, it raises the question of who we can trust if the doctors are also incompetent. Doctors are frequently trusted second only to God when it comes to healing a patient's illness. Hence, a doctor who claims to have the exceptional ability to treat patients must exercise a high level of care. Medical malpractice claims are increasing, and more people are interested in finding solutions.

Just a few of the questions that need to be answered are whether a patient has the right to sue a doctor who tried to cure him but acted negligently, whether all patients who did not recover can sue the doctor, who will prove negligence on the part of the doctor and the hospital patients, are the patients consumers of the doctor's services, and whether a doctor can claim that he acted to the best of his ability.

With more options for therapy, there are an increasing number of instances of medical carelessness. The numerous facets of medical negligence are comprehensively covered in this term paper in the context of the definition of the standard of care that must be provided, the responsibility of the doctor, the burden of proof, etc.

To determine various Supreme Court rulings, a thorough analysis of many instances was conducted. Euthanasia, which is still illegal in India, has recently come to light thanks to the Aruna Case. This topic has been examined to determine how strictly it is forbidden and what the Supreme Court's rules are in this area.

Analysis of Medical Negligence

Every person who decides to pursue a certain career commits to exercising it with a reasonable amount of attention and expertise. He implies to the person dealing with him that the expertise he claims to possess shall be used and handled with a reasonable degree of care and caution since he requires a specific level of study to be a professional in that branch. A doctor cannot guarantee the outcome of his patient's case. A surgeon cannot and does not promise that the outcome of surgery will always be advantageous, much less completely advantageous, for the patient.

The only assurance that a professional can provide or is implied to have provided is that he has the necessary expertise in the profession that he practices and that, when performing the task assigned to him, he will be using that skill with reasonable competence. The person approaching the professional should anticipate nothing more than this. According to this criterion, a professional may be held accountable for negligence based on one of two conclusions: either he was not in possession of the necessary expertise that he claimed to possess or he did not execute the talent that he did possess with reasonable competence in the specific circumstance.

Duty to Care

As a doctor treats a patient, he owes that patient a number of care obligations, including −

  • A duty of care in determining whether to take on this case.

  • A duty of care in selecting the course of therapy.

  • A responsibility to administer the treatment properly.

The patient has the legal right to sue for negligence if any of these obligations are broken. When a doctor fails to provide the same level of care as a reasonable doctor in his field would have provided in his time or as a member of his class, he is in breach of his professional obligations.


Medical malpractice cannot be seen as a straightforward kind of tort. When a patient receives incorrect treatment and may vomit as a result, medical negligence goes from a straightforward tort to a potentially fatal one in which the patient perishes from a straightforward fracture. A doctor of a reasonable caliber is required to exercise a level of care that is comparatively high in cases of medical negligence. The standard of care is not that of a typical wise individual, but rather of a typical prudent doctor who falls within the same umbrella as the doctor who will be held to that standard.


Q1. What are the guidelines for medical malpractice in India?

Ans. According to Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code - Causing death by negligence," Which means, if anyone who kills someone through a reckless or careless act that does not constitute culpable homicide will be penalized with either type of imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or a combination of the two.

Q2. Do cases of medical malpractice end up in court?

Ans. Even when legal action has been taken, the great majority of medical negligence claims are settled out of court. There are several possibilities to negotiate a settlement of your medical claim, and the Court highly promotes early case settlement.

Updated on: 16-Mar-2023


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