Amendments under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNSS) in medical negligence laws which have been proposed by the Home minister Amit Shah means a marked shift in India’s policy. That is why this legislative change is intended to strengthen the legislated obligations of stakeholders operating in the healthcare industry and respond to the existing shortages and risks to patient safety. This paper aims at discussing those new laws, their overviews, impacts on the healthcare professionals, and reactions from the medical field.

Background of Medical Negligence Laws in India

India had formally managed medical negligence under as many as the following five laws namely Indian Penal Code, consumers right act and some civil laws. The old section 304A of the Indian Penal Code provided Sections that punished causing the death of a person by rash or negligent acts, which in effect prohibited medical negligence. Also, the Consumer Protection Act enabled consumers to complain against unfair practices in medical services to seek compensation for the same. Such laws, however, have been frowned at for being either lenient or excessively punitive; many of them do not possess clearly defined measures and are applied erratically. Key Provisions of BNSS on Medical Negligence

The BNSS introduces several significant changes aimed at addressing medical negligence more stringently and effectively: The BNSS introduces several significant changes aimed at addressing medical negligence more stringently and effectively:

  1. Increased Penalties: Under the BNSS doctors can be prosecuted and if convicted can draw a maximum of two years imprisonment if death was caused due to negligence. Before practicing this rule, several regulations were made in previous years with comparatively less severe penalties (The Hindu, 2023).
  2. Comprehensive Definition of Negligence: Regarding the definition of medical negligence, new laws state that it implies the inability to use due diligence while practicing medical procedures and actions that may be expected from similar professionals.
  3. Immediate Reporting Requirement: According to the BNSS, any medical negligence instance that leads to the death or serious injury of a patient must be reported at the time. Such cases also attract penalties in the event they are not reported (The Telegraph, 2023).
  4. Protective Provisions: The IMA has demanded protective measures for doctors who work professionally and may sometimes be charged with negligence because of circumstances that are beyond their control. The rationale for these provisions is to prevent virtual prosecution of negligence to mean acceptable standards so that prosecution can only occur when there is gross negligence (Business Standard, 2023).

Implications for Healthcare Professionals

The introduction of these laws has profound implications for healthcare professionals in India:

  1. Increased Accountability: The penalties are intended to introduce greater accountability from the side of medical personnel, which should help increase the level of patients’ protection and trust in the medical sphere. In this way, strict measures save patients’ lives and make practitioners adhere to the highest standards of professionalism.
  2. Legal Concerns: Sophisticated medicine practitioners have stated that they have major concerns due to conditions such as a higher possibility of being sued and criminal charges where outcomes are out of their control. This has birth the vices of practicing defensive medicine when doctors possibly avoid high risk procedures or patients to reduce instance of legal lawsuits (The New Indian Express, 2023).
  3. Impact on Medical Practice: Their threat is that such fear of being imprisoned will keep many talented persons away from the medical field. Which also results in concern with the new laws as they can increase the degree of practicing defensive medicine, with emphasis on legal protection rather than that of the patients (The Telegraph, 2023).
  4. Call for Protective Measures: To this end, the IMA has appealed to the government to include protective features in the BNSS to protect doctors on bases of the rampant lawsuit threats that were seen to be receiving unintended conception while only deserving cases of medical negligence should be taken to court (Business Standard, 2023). Response from the Medical Community

The BNSS has been welcomed by the medical community; however, there are several concerns related to the possible negative tendencies in the field. Key points of contention include:

1. Severity of Punishments: The penalties have been increased and this has been among the areas of protest. Several physicians believe that imprisonment is too severe and does not take into account such a unpredictable and perilous profession as medicine (2023 The Hindu Article).

2. Need for Clarity: There is a need to define what exactly is medical malpractice so that people can be able to understand what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. The new laws can be abused, and this is why doctors claim that without clear definitions of what is meant by human trafficking and devoid of clear standards for prosecuting the crimes, the new laws are not as helpful as they may seem (Covey, in).

3. Balancing Accountability and Protection: The IMA along with other medical organizations has focused largely on the need for identifying a proper degree of accountability to suit the doctors while providing them work safety. Some of the measures that they have recommended include medical certification before any legal proceeding is instituted in court which entails preliminary investigations by the medical boards to allow only deserving cases of negligence to be brought to court (Business Standard, 2023).

4. Public Awareness and Education: There is a general opinion that along with higher requirements for laws, it is necessary to explain to people the subtleties of their treatment. This would assist in normalising the rates for reporting and set high possibility of actuality for the bumps marked as ‘rape’ (2023, p. 74).

International Comparisons

This new dynamics of handling medical negligence puts India in par with other countries with nay-tell strict laws on medical malpractice. The laws of countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom offer extensive legal procedural provisions for medical negligence while on the other hand offering measures of protection to the medical practitioners. These examples from other countries call for integration of strategies that enhance the safety of patients but at the same time does not expose the medical practitioners to harsh treatment under the law.


The laws that have been enacted under the BNSS with reference to medical negligence are radical in their approach for handling medical negligence cases in India. Although supposed to protect patients and increase accountability in healthcare practices, they have also been met with concern of a higher risk factor within healthcare professionals and more changes to the practice of medicine. Limiting the current laws’ effectiveness while maintaining their strictness and sufficient levels of doctor protection is the key to the successful functioning of these laws. Therefore, it is crucial to convey the government, medical teams, and the public to sustain these laws’ purpose without negating India’s healthcare sector’s standard.

Thus, these laws can be optimized for their goal without diminishing the quality of treatments available in India but through the support of the consistent dialogue between the government, medical staff, and people. References

Contributed by- Rudraksh Gupta
O.P. Jindal Global University, BComLLB 2022

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