Most doctors come across medico-legal cases (MLC) in their medical career. An MLC is a case of injury wherein an investigation by the law enforcing agency is necessary to get to the bottom of the cause of the injury. In other words, it is a medical case with legal implications for the doctor, where he, after the examination of the patient, thinks that some investigation by law enforcement agencies is essential. It also includes a legal case requiring medical expertise when brought by the police for examination since a doctor's knowledge may be necessary for the administration of law.
Instances of MLC are:
Cases of injuries and burns that suggest the commission of an offence.
Unnatural accident cases of grievous hurt or death
Poisoning or intoxication
Cases referred by the courts
The Government has issued a list of guidelines and the manner in which care has to be given to the MLC survivors:
Initial resuscitation or first aid
Required consent for examination
Age estimation, if requested
Providing the collected evidence to police
Treatment of injuries
The doctor should carefully examine and treat the patient, record the date, time, place, brought by whom and examination finding. The doctor should also record the dying declaration of the patient if he is on the verge of death.
As per section 39 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the doctor must report the MLC to police after the completion of primary lifesaving medical care. The aim is to initiate the legal proceeding at the earliest to gather maximum evidence by the police. Quick and effective action by the police also helps to avoid the destruction of evidence.
The law states that issues such as legal formalities, monetary constraints or infrastructural restraints of the institution should not prohibit the hospital from providing basic and emergency medical treatment.
Generally, all the big hospitals and teaching institutions have a detailed manual on how to deal with MLC's. However, even if these manuals are not available, MLC's pose no problem if the doctor uses proper care and caution in dealing with them.