What you need to know:
- Dismissing the appeal on Monday, court ruled that “a doctor is not negligent if he exercises the ordinary skill of an ordinary competent man professing to have that special skill.”
A 4-year-old child has lost an appeal in which he challenged a private hospital he accused of negligence while administering medicine to him, leading to deforming his hand.
Gabriel Emma, a minor suing through his mother Emma Aulo as his next of friend, appealed against an October 22, 2021 decision by Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council that exonerated a medic at Doctor’s Hospital Sseguku Limited.
The Council held that “the medic or hospital was mot professionally negligent in managing and treating him.”
Dismissing the appeal on Monday, High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana ruled that “a doctor is not negligent if he exercises the ordinary skill of an ordinary competent man professing to have that special skill.”
“The standard of care is that reasonably expected of a reasonably competent professional with respect to a particular field”. That is, a specialist must exercise the ordinary skills of his specialty,” he said.
The judge further held that when determining matters concerning the conduct of a member of a profession, it is his own colleagues of good repute and competency who are in the reasonable position to determine the matter.
“It should not be open to every person to make criticism of a medical personnel without such competency. The courts are equally deficient of required knowledge or competency to find medical person negligent except in the extreme cases of obvious and glaring acts of negligence,” he noted.
According to Justice Ssekaana, it was clear from the Council’s analysis that there was no error of clinical judgment by the respondent’s employees to amount to negligence as Dr. Justus Stephen Byarugaba had concluded from hearing the complainant’s story after the fact as his opinion was based on hearsay without concrete facts from the file.
Court also concurred with Council that “the alleged laxity as concluded by Professor Patrick Kyamanywa was merely an error that the respondent employees acting with ordinary care might have made which should never have imputed any negligence.””
“In the final result for the reasons stated herein above, this appeal fails and the decision of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council is upheld. Each party shall meet its costs. It is so ordered,” Justice Ssekaana stated.