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Medicolegal: Can the government force a private practitioner to see COVID-19 patients?: Dr. MC Gupta

M3 India Newsdesk Jun 02, 2020

Dr. MC Gupta clarifies as to whether the government can coerce private practitioners to step in and attend to COVID-19 patients and if so, what the doctor can do before he accepts the task. 

For our comprehensive coverage and latest updates on COVID-19 click here.

QUESTION--Can the government force a private practitioner to see COVID-19 patients?

Dr. MC Gupta answers--

1—Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, reads--

“2. Power to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease.—(1) When at any time the [State Government] is satisfied that 7[the State] or any part thereof is visited by, or threatened with, an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease, the 8[State Government], if [it] thinks that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose, may take, or require or empower any person to take, such measures and, by public notice, prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as [it] shall deem necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, and may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred (including compensation if any) shall be defrayed.”

2—It is clear that the government can force a private practitioner to see COVID-19 patients if it has prescribed the temporary regulations referred above by way of a public notice.

3—It is also clear that the private practitioner can demand the expenses incurred as well as compensation, if any, before he undertakes to perform the services asked.


Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.

Content from the writer has been directly replicated on the website. No edits have been made.

The writer, Dr. MC Gupta is a practising lawyer specialising in medical negligence cases. He also has an MD Medicine from AIIMS, Delhi where he also worked as a faculty member for 18 years, later working another 10 years as a Professor and Dean at National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, before pursuing law.

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