Diving Deep: Bolam and Bolitho Tests in the Evaluation of Medical Negligence in India

  • Nikhil Bajpai and Sai Rohan Ramaraju
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  • Nikhil Bajpai

    Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School IFHE Hyderabad, India

  • Sai Rohan Ramaraju

    Student at ICFAI Law School IFHE Hyderabad, India

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Following the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act in 1986, some patients began pursuing legal actions against medical professionals, claiming that they were irresponsible in their medical services and seeking and receiving compensation in exchange. Because of the increase in such similar cases, various legal decisions have been made about what constitutes negligence and what the requirements are to show that medical negligence took place. Negligence can be defined as a breach of a legal duty to care that causes damage to the other person. Breach of such duty allows the patient the right to sue the doctors who had a duty of care and breached it, resulting in damage to the patient. Anyone who provides medical services or any type of medical treatment implicitly states that they have the necessary expertise and knowledge; this is known as the "implied undertaking" of the medical practitioner. Proof that the doctor did not deliver the requisite standard of care given the circumstances is a key component of any negligence lawsuit against the doctor. The development of the Bolam test demonstrates a careful balance between judicial action & deference to medical expertise. While courts are entrusted with assessing negligence, India's rules for evaluating expert views & the level of deference to medical practitioners are always developing and uneven. In Indian courts, the Bolam test is an important instrument for determining medical negligence claims. This test compares a doctor's behavior to the accepted standards of their professional community. To establish negligence, it must be proven that the doctor diverted from accepted standards and took actions that were not in line with what an expert of typical ability would have done. The Bolam test, although widely recognised in India, has proven useful in circumstances such as Suresh Gupta case, but disputes continue over the need for a more strict test to suit increasing standards. However, the Bolam test had been critiqued for leaning too much on medical testimony to support the defendant. The House of Lords' decision in the Bolitho case requires that the asserted quality be justified logically and must have taken into account the hazards and benefits of various other options. The outcome of Bolitho is that the court will adopt a more inquisitive approach to the medical evidence presented by both sides in litigation, allowing it to reach its verdict. An analysis of the Bolam and Bolitho rules in India indicates a complex ecosystem where legal standards, medical ability, and court discretion coexist. The need for an agreed-upon and complete structure to handle medical negligence is clear, with an emphasis on balancing respect to medical experts with responsibility and patient rights protection.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 3, Page 66 - 78

DOI: https://doij.org/10.10000/IJLMH.117477

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