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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

RESPONSIBILITY OP A MEDICAL PRACTmONER                          417

ficial examination and said that there could not be anything wrong with the plaintiffs heart,
but some medicine should be prescribed for his bad digestion. When the civil surgeon
was writing out a prescription the plaintiff told him that occasionally he felt dryness in
his ear and used to find an accumulation of white matter like dry wax in his ear. The
doctor prescribed a mixture of carbolic acid and paraffin for the ear trouble also telling
him to use three or four drops of the mixture whenever he felt dryness or irritation in
the ear. The plaintiff got the prescription dispensed by a chemist at Bareilly but did
not use the prescription for the ear drops as he did not feel any further trouble in his
ear. On October 10, 1925, the doctor gave the plaintiff a certificate recommending him
for three months' leave on account of the plaintiff's suffering from neurasthenia. The
doctor in giving history of the case did not mention anything, about the ear trouble
as it appeared that the plaintiff: made no complaint of such trouble after August 10, 1925.

The plaintiff had no recurrence of the irritation in his ear until the end of July
1926. On August 1, 1926, he had the doctor's prescription for ear drops dispensed by a
chemist at Aligarh, where he was stationed. On August 3, the plaintiff had three or
four drops of the medicine dropped into his ear by his brother, Hirday Narain, at 8 or
9 pjn. As soon as the drops were put in the plaintiff felt an acute burning sensation
in his ear which caused considerable pain, but after a time the pain subsided and the
plaintiff was able to go to sleep. Next morning he felt pain in his right ear and sent
for Dr. Chand Behari Lai of Aligarh who said that the ear appeared to have been burnt
by some medicine. The plaintiff consulted several doctors about his ear and adopted
proper medical treatment, but after the inflammation had subsided it was found that
the drum of the right ear had been practically destroyed. The hearing of the ear had
become very defective and he suffered from troublesome noises in the ear. The plaintiff
sued Major Shyam Behari Lai who had prescribed the ear drops and Amulya Charan
De, the chemist, who had dispensed the prescription, in the Additional Judge's Court
at AJigarh, claiming Rs. 15,000 as damages for the permanent injury to his ear and for
the mental and physical pain and for the expenses for consulting a number of doctors.

The Additional Judge dismissed the plaintiff's suit, and so the plaintiff appealed to
the division bench consisting of Justices Bannerji and King at the High Court, Allahabad.
The doctor denied that he was guilty of negligence or want of medical skill in giving
the prescription and maintained that the prescription was medically correct and could
not have caused the injury, if properly dispensed and used. He also contended that the
plaintiff was not justified in using the prescription about a year after it had been given
without obtaining fresh medical advice. The chemist asserted that he had dispensed
the prescription correctly and that he was not guilty of any negligence.

On consideration of all the evidence Their Lordships agreed with the court below
in finding that the doctor was not negligent in his examination and diagnosis, but was
negligent in prescribing a novel prescription for which no authority could be found,
although the complaint for which it was' prescribed was not uncommon. They found
also that the mixture was dangerous in the sense that it was likely to cause harm to
the plaintiff's ear unless it was applied after a vigorous shaking and that the doctor
had no justification for prescribing such a novel and dangerous mixture for a petty
complaint. They found also that the doctor did not give any clear warning as to the
necessity of shaking the mixture before use. If such directions were essential to avoid
the risk of harm he should have entered the necessary directions in the prescription
itself.

As regards title chemist Their Lordships agreed with, the court below iihat he was
not guilty of negligence or breach of duty. He had admittedly dispensed the prescription
correctly. He had labelled the bottle as * poison* and as there was no direction in the
prescription about shaking the mixture, Their Lordships held that he was not to blame
in failing to label the bottle 'shake the bottle*. The same prescription had been dis-
pensed in precisely the same manner by two firms of Calcutta chemists and also, by a
chemist in Bareilly. Their Lordships found no reason, therefore, for holding that the
chemist was guilty of negligence or lack of skill. Their Lordships accordingly dismissed
the appeal as against the chemist with costs, and allowed the appeal as against the
doctor to the extent of granting the plaintiff a decree for Rs. 4,000 against the doctor
with proportionate costs in both courts.—Leader, May 29, 1032.

6. Manslaughter by Negligence.—An unqualified practitioner treated a patient who
complained of pain in the chest, and dissuaded him from consulting a medical man.
Haemoptysis and high fever developed, but he continued to treat the patient on his* own
responsibility. On the fourth, day the family infoocjuced a medical,man, who diagftose^
severe pneumonia and pleurisy and two days later the patient died. The un^quaWBd
practitioner was prosecuted for manslaughter by 'gross negligence and sentenice<i
the court to three months' imprisonment. According to the verb^ict -his
consisted in having undertaken the 'case(without any medical training. Ift
considered negligence that the patient was dissuaded from consulting a nifiiclieal^ ipsicti-
tioner.—Lancet, Jan. 24, 1931, p. 213.
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