Journal of Forensic Dental Sciences
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 2-7

Professional negligence in dental practice: Potential for civil and criminal liability in India

1 Department of Forensic Odontology S. D. M. College of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Dharwad, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Oral Pathology, S. D. M. College of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Dharwad, Karnataka, India
3 Postgraduate Department of Studies in Law and Research, Bangalore University, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Ashith B Acharya
Department of Forensic Odontology, S.D.M. College of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Sattur, Dharwad - 580 009, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2948.50880

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The doctor/dentist-patient relationship has transformed over the last two decades. Health professionals are increasingly viewed as providers of service for consideration. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) was enacted in 1986 for better protection of the interests of consumers as well as to provide a simple and quick mechanism for redressing consumer grievances. Since 1995, health professionals have been included within the ambit of the CPA, empowering the patient to file lawsuits (in case of perceived negligence) in consumer courts. This review explores the definitions of 'consumer', 'services', and 'negligence', discussing their implications with respect to civil and criminal liability of dentists, while providing relevant case examples and court guidelines in landmark judgments. It is concluded that the potential for civil lawsuits against dentists for negligent actions is existent, although the prospect of a dentist being held liable for criminal negligence is low.

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