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Patients receiving free treatment are consumers, can file the medical negligence case under the Consumer Act: NCDRC

Patients treated free of charge at government hospitals fall under the definition of ‘consumers’ and cases can be filed in consumer forums against hospitals for negligence, country’s apex consumer forum NCDRC has said. Holding the district medical officer and in-charge of Government Bangar Hospital in Rajasthan’s Pali district guilty of negligence, resulting in the death of a road accident victim in 2001, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) ordered Rs 10 lakh penalty on the hospital. The NCDRC bench referred to a 1995 judgment of the Supreme Court which had observed that “free service would also be ‘service’ and the recipient a ‘consumer’ under the Act.”

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The NCDRC, which is country’s apex consumer forum held the district medical officer and in-charge of Government Bangar Hospital in Rajasthan’s Pali district guilty of negligence which resulted in the death of a road accident victim in 2001. The hospital has been ordered to pay Rs 10 lakh penalty by a bench comprising president Justice D K Jain and member M Shreesha on Tuesday.

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