Misrepresentation by Doctors
The doctor fails to inform the mother about a fatal medical condition of her child in her womb. If she had known about the condition the mother would have aborted the child. Can the mother sue the doctor for the non-disclosure
The present case is that of withholding of information by a doctor to his or her patient. The principle of autonomy or informed consent is recognized by the constitution law under article 21 – Right to life and liberty. Similarly, consent is essential for a contract to be valid under contract law. A patient has the right to autonomy or to make their own decisions. When a doctor withholds pertinent information from patient it hampers the patient in making an informed choice. One recognized exception is the cases where disclosure of information causes injury to the patient such as anxiety or distress etc., then such non-disclosure is justified.
In the given case, the doctor has withheld the information about the fatal condition of an unborn child, due to which the mother-patient was not able to make an informed choice. Here, the mother has the right to sue the doctor as it has resulted in medical negligence or misconduct or a breach of ethical standards as per the Tort law. Under the Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002 which lays down the ethical standards, responsibilities and duties of the practitioners, Medical Council of India has the Authority to cancel the medical license of those practitioners who has misrepresented facts, or are guilty of fraud etc.
However, in cases of medical negligence or negligence in general it has been observed that with a breach of duty or obligation a proof of injury or suffering also has to be shown. Therefore, if the mother has not suffered any injury due to non-disclosure of a pertinent information, the doctor might not be held liable.
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