Every institution and theory, before coming into existence goes through a lot of study, debate, changes and then finally gets approved. This is especially true in case of law. Law is considered to have its origin in the society itself. The rituals, customs and culture being the stalwarts of deciding what should be legal and what not. We will see what res ipsa loquitur medical practice is all about.
As the name, medical malpractice suggests, this is related to some medical issues. Now, since this ‘res ipsa loquitur’ is a doctrine, it has relevance and application in other areas too. So, we will narrow it down to the medical malpractices alone.
Meaning of Res Ipsa Loquitur
This is a doctrine in law which has its verbal origin in Latin. The literal meaning of res ipsa loquitur is ‘the thing speaks for itself.’ Like most of the doctrines, which are some statements, that are taken as the ultimate truth and morally correct thing to do, this one deals with ‘something which was ought to be done’ but did not happen. This may be due to the negligence of the doctor or the victim himself too.
For example, if a doctor has clearly instructed you to not get up and hang or elevate your fractured leg while sitting or lying down. You do not do so and because of which you end up worsening your leg’s healing process. In this case this is not an action that becomes a part of medical malpractice. You have called upon the situation yourself and the doctor cannot be sued for improper treatment.
At the same time, if you have undergone a surgery for artificial limb attachment and physiotherapy is not provided to you for days together, it is negligence on the surgeon’s part. You have the right to sue the doctor for medical negligence on the basis of res ipsa loquitur.
Res Ipsa Loquitur: The Doctrine
We explained you the res ipsa loquitur meaning with an example, now for the doctrine. The doctrine works on ‘negligence.’ There are cases where one has to prove that because of the opponent’s negligence some issue has happened. Thus, the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff. In simple words ‘burden of proof’ means that one has to prove that he or she has been wronged.
This is either by proving their rights have been snatched, taken, overruled, injured, etc. or; by proving that a person has not acted as expected. Like, a public servant, say a watchman of an explosives company is supposed to check for all the unnecessary electrical equipments during night time are switched off to ensure safety from chances of fuse.
But, he fails to perform this one night and invariably a fuse is blown because of which the go-down caught fire and the company bore losses. Incidentally, in this accident a passerby was hurt. So, here the company is liable to pay damages, i.e. compensation to that person.
Res Ipsa Loquitur in Medical Negligence Cases
Some of the common cases of res ipsa loquitur in medical negligence is seen during deliveries of pregnant women in hospitals, administering anesthesia, operating on the human body, injecting spinal injections, etc. They are listed below:
Surgeons carelessly leave scalpel or some other surgical instrument inside the patient’s body
Patient dies of overdose of anesthesia
Patient discovers his wrong limb has been operated upon
Patients are unable to move some part of their limb, lose sensation due to wrong spinal injection insertions
There are many more res ipsa loquitur medical malpractice cases but more than the cases one should know the rights after such a case happens. Ask your doctor questions, they are supposed to explain you irrespective of your educational or ‘non-educational’ background. Do not fall for it when they say ‘trust us, we’ll do the best.’ Remember, it is your life and dear one that is under their knife or observation. You trusted their capabilities and that is how it should end, with the trust intact.