Mar 11, 2022

Can medical patients get protection as ‘consumers’?

In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court discussed whether the Consumer Protection Act is applicable to hospitals. The Court said that only those hospitals which provide free medical services to all patients will fall outside the coverage of the Consumer Protection Act.

So, the Consumer Protection Act does not apply to hospitals that do not charge anyone for any medical service i.e, hospitals that only provide free services. However, if you are a patient and you approach a hospital that charges for medical services, then you can get protection as a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act.

Seeking consumer protection against hospitals

The Consumer Protection Act provides protection for consumers and establishes authorities for timely and effective

settlement of consumer disputes.

The Act covers any service which is made available to a person who might use the service. This does not include any free service or a service which is provided without any payment.

In Indian Medical Association v. VP Shantha, the Supreme Court looked at 3 situations where a hospital provides medical services:

  1. Hospitals that provide medical services free of cost to all persons – Consumer Protection Act is not applicable.
  2. Hospitals that provide medical services in return for payment by patients – Consumer Protection Act is applicable.
  3. Hospitals that mostly provide services on payment basis, but also provide free service to some poor patients – The Court said that in this situation, the hospital’s expenses for providing the free service are met out of the income it gets from the paying patients. So, the Consumer Protection Act is applicable to these hospitals. Patients who get medical services from these hospitals should be treated equally, irrespective of the fact that some of them pay for the service and others get the service free of charge. Even a person who is given free service in these hospitals is considered as a ‘consumer’ under the Act.

Related Weekly Posts

February 23 2022

How does the Law protect Consumers?

Have you ever been surprised by the hidden charge for a carry bag at a store? Well, you will be glad to know that this is now considered an unfair trade practice.    The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has said that before consumers choose to buy goods from a particular retail outlet, they […]
Read More >

February 21 2022

5 things you didn’t know about the Law on Real Estate

The Supreme Court has said that a person who buys a plot/building can approach the Consumer Court to complain against the builder/developer. In its judgement, the Court held that the consumer protection law is also applicable to real estate complaints by allottees.   Which law regulates real estate in India? The Real Estate (Regulation and […]
Read More >

March 04 2022

Can you get compensation for delayed/late arrival of trains?

The Supreme Court has said that railway authorities are liable to pay compensation for delay and late arrival of trains, unless there is evidence explaining the delay, and it is proved that the delay was beyond their control and/or there was some justification for the delay. In this context, let us look at how the […]
Read More >

February 24 2022

Fooled by a product too similar to your preferred brand? You have the right to file a complaint!

The Delhi High Court has restrained the brand Joy from using, manufacturing, selling, advertising, or dealing in cosmetic products that are deceptively similar to Nivea in terms of label and appearance. The Court found that the shape, size and colour product of “Joy Intense Moisture” lotion was deceptively similar, even if not identical, to that […]
Read More >

February 24 2022

How safe are your money, jewellery, property papers in bank lockers? SC lays down guidelines until RBI creates new regulations

 The Supreme Court has said that banks are service providers under the consumer protection law. They must exercise due diligence in maintaining and operating their locker or safety deposit systems. This includes ensuring the proper functioning of the locker system, guarding against unauthorized access to the lockers, and providing appropriate safeguards against theft and robbery. […]
Read More >

February 24 2022

Ordered online? You can get Compensation if your Order is Cancelled

The Odisha State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has found Amazon India guilty of ‘unfair trade practices’ for withdrawing an offer for sale of a laptop. The Commission directed the company to pay a sum of Rupees forty thousand as compensation to the complainant.   In this context, let us look at consumer protection laws and […]
Read More >