Bombay High Court Upholds Doctor's Conviction For Negligent Act Causing Patient's Death

Bombay High Court Upholds Doctor's Conviction For Negligent Act Causing Patient's Death

The High Court refused to direct the doctor to undergo the 10-day sentence considering his age and medical condition.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, February 26, 2024, 07:57 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Mumbai, February 26: While upholding the conviction of a septuagenarian doctor for negligent act causing death of a patient in 1984, the Bombay High Court has refused to direct him to undergo the 10-day sentence considering his age and medical condition.

The court has, however, enhanced the compensation amount imposed on Dr Anil Pinto from Rs5,000 to Rs5 lakh, of which Rs4.9 lakh has to be paid to the victim’s family.

The order was passed while hearing petitions filed by the state government and the victim’s family seeking imposition of the sentence of imprisonment on Pinto. They also sought enhancement of the fine amount.

What's The Case?

In February 1984, one Prakash, 30, visited Pinto’s clinic to undergo a procedure for his sweaty palms. However, during the procedure, Pinto allegedly cut a nerve on Prakash’s hand, which caused a spasm in a vital artery. He was transferred to the civic run KEM hospital after 12 hours. He died three days later.

The magistrate court, in October 1994, held Pinto guilty of negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide and sentenced him to 10-day simple imprisonment. The magistrate also imposed a fine of Rs5,000 on him, of which Rs4,900 was to be paid to the victim’s family.

Doctor Did Not Take Immediate Steps: HC

The HC concurred with the trial court’s observation that Pinto’s wait and watch policy caused spasm of vital artery in Prakash, which amounted to negligence. Hence, at the most, negligence can be attributed to Pinto for not taking immediate steps to deal with the situation.

“The act of not acting with promptness and expediency is what goes against him. As an expert surgeon and a medical professional, it was expected for him to act promptly to tackle the damage to the artery and the long wait for more than 12 hours has definitely caused the complications,” Justice Bharati Dangre said in February 9. The detailed order was made available on Monday.

While error of judgment on part of a professional may not amount to negligence per se, but when an expert surgeon leaves the patient waiting with a spasm of a vital artery then this amounts to negligence, the judge noted. The court, while refusing to direct Pinto to undergo his sentence, noted that he was suffering from cancer and other medical ailments owing to his age.

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