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Legal Liabilities of Referrals With Special Reference to Outward Referrals

* Nishant Kumar Jha, Advocate-on-Record, Patna High Court
*Corresponding author: nishantjha1@gmail.com
Paper Received: 29-06-2021 Paper Corrected: 31-07-2021 Accepted: 07-08-21

Abstract: Indian laws applicable to healthcare system undoubtedly infer to quality care to patients to be on safer side. Referring to specialists for second opinion or better handling to case is part of such care. Medically, it is termed as referral. It may be outward or inward depending upon nature of referrals. Outward referrals are legally important as any failure to follow protocols or untimely referrals causing harm to patients is subject of legal proceedings. Intentional failures in referral is covered under negligent treatment or wrong diagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
Reasons of Referral: Prognosis is in core of medical referral. Various reasons include seeking to conclusive diagnosis, facing facilities problems, needing specialist’s views, following ethical protocol or guidelines, looking to condition of patients etc.
Protocol of Referral: Indian healthcare system is divided in three levels and accordingly referral protocols and maintenance of documents are suggested.
Legal Liabilities of Medical Referrals: Any response against the protocol in healthcare system is liable for legal proceedings under distinguished laws of the land. If the professional possess requisite skill which he professed to have, or, he did not exercise, with reasonable competence, the law starts to take its due action.
Precautions of Outward Referrals: Precautions include referring to specialist with prior appointment, maintain all documents, following the conditions of patients being in contact of patient etc.
Limitations of Outward Referrals in India: Limitations are noted as lack of skilled workforce, immature infrastructure, non-awareness among people etc.
Conclusion: Strengthening of healthcare system at primary and secondary levels is needed to avoid loss of lives after lacking quality care in healthcare system.
Key Words: Referrals, Outward Referrals, Legal liabilities, Quality healthcare, Protocol of referral…………….. 

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