The Right to Emergency Care

The biggest bane with the private and government medical institutions in India is that when an accident victim is rushed to the hospital, they would unnecessarily refuse service and force you to approach a police station to file a complaint for the accident first. Why is this? Shouldn’t the treatment and recovery from the emergency be the first to be given importance than other bureocratic processes? A quick introspection can give us the following reasons for this practice:

  1. The police in India are not trust-worthy. In order to gain petty gains, there are a lot of instances where they involve in illicit bargaining to advance their personal gains. The doctors try to keep themselves free from such bureocratic traps.
  2. When a witness or a good samaritan rushes an accident victim to the hospital, the cops start nagging him with unnecessary investigation procedures for months and years together though he/she might not be directly related to the injured other than with the good intent of helping the accident victim who the person has come across only when the mishap has happened.

 Towards alleviating such maladies, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that all injured persons especially in the case of road traffic accidents, assaults, etc., when brought to a hospital / medical centre, have to be offered first aid, stabilized and shifted to a higher centre / government centre if required. It is only after this that the hospital can demand payment or complete police formalities. In case you are a bystander and wish to help someone in an accident, please go ahead and do so. Your responsibility ends as soon as you leave the person at the hospital. The hospital bears the responsibility of informing the police, giving first aid etc.

Supreme Court Judgement
Date of Judgment: 23/02/2007.
Case No.: Appeal (civil) 919 of 2007
Source Courtesy:

The Background

In a Public interest petition filed in Supreme Court of India in 1988 the Supreme Court of India had declared that “ Every Doctor whether at Government Hospital or otherwise has the professional obligation to extend his services with due expertise for protecting life. The obligation is total, absolute and paramount”. In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court had ordered that this order should be given wide publicity, neither the publicity had been adequate nor the knowledge of this order. Due to this there are still many instances of refusal by private hospitals to treat accident victims. Further, it is a common sight that when accident occurs there will be many to crowd around and express their views on who was responsible for the accident but hardly anyone would help to rush the accident victim to the nearest hospital. 

Let us try to spread this message of our Apex court to as many people and ensure that unfortunate members who meet up with road accidents are not denied of basic medical facilities and thus we can help them to restore their normal life at the earliest.