Medico Legal Cases
What is a medico legal case?
A medico legal case is where a person is injured or harmed in any way and needs medical attention for it. Injury cases which suggest some criminal offense. Burn injuries, vehicular accidents (includes railways and other modes of transport), suspected homicide/murder, poisoning, sexual assault and criminal abortion are classified as medico legal cases.
Patient who is unconscious due to unknown reasons, brought dead or die shortly after admission without proper medical documents to indicate cause of death also come under its purview. Hospital deaths where the patient dies suddenly due to administration of medication or a fall within the hospital, when he is in the ICU or during surgery can also be classified under medico legal cases. A medical autopsy has to be ordered under all the above circumstances.
In all these cases, it is the legal duty of the treating doctor to report it to the nearest police station immediately after completing primary lifesaving medical care. This is in accordance with Section 39 of Criminal Procedure Code of India. The idea is to initiate legal proceeding at the earliest is so that maximum evidence can be collected by the police officer. Quick action by the police also helps to avoid the destruction of evidence by the treating physician.
What does the law say?
The law states that concerns like legal formalities, monetary considerations or even the infrastructural restraints of the institution should not prohibit the institution or hospital from providing basic and emergency medical treatment. Here are a few things you should know :
Procedure for filing a medico legal case:
On visiting a hospital for a medico legal case, once you or your loved one has received treatment, your doctor or hospital will inform the police about your case, an acknowledgement of receipt is taken for future reference. If the intimation is given orally or via the phone, a docket number is provided which can be used as proof of intimation and is documented in the patient’s records. Once the patient is stabilised you will be directed to the medico legal desk. Here you will be asked to fill out a form and sign it . Your signature is required to authenticate the information you have provided. At this point your case sheet will be kept in the hospital and you will be visited by the police. They will take down your statement, and confirm if you want to file a case. The treating physician will fill out the medical details in the form. Your doctor is responsible to give accurate information to the police which will assist them in their investigation. After your case is filed you will get a receipt stating your file number and case number. If required you will need to employ a lawyer to take the case forward.