Patient died of fatal Diffuse Axonal Injury, NCDRC exonerates doctor of medical negligence

Published On 2022-07-01 12:23 GMT   |   Update On 2022-07-01 12:23 GMT

New Delhi: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) recently exonerated an Amritsar-based doctor from the charges of medical negligence while treating a patient suffering from accidental injuries.Although family claimed that the patient had died because of the delayed and wrong treatment given by the doctor, the top consumer court noted that the doctor had insisted to take...

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New Delhi: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) recently exonerated an Amritsar-based doctor from the charges of medical negligence while treating a patient suffering from accidental injuries.

Although family claimed that the patient had died because of the delayed and wrong treatment given by the doctor, the top consumer court noted that the doctor had insisted to take the patient to higher facilities and provided First-aid treatment as per the reasonable standard of practice.

Therefore, dismissing the medical negligence complaint, the NCDRC bench noted, "It is known that at times, the professional is confronted with making a choice between the devil and the deep sea and he has to choose the lesser evil. In our considered view, the emergency First-aid treatment was as per reasonable standard of practice of the Opposite Party No.1. We don't find any negligence or failure of duty of care. The death of injured child was due to the fatal Diffuse Axonal Injury."

The history of the case goes back to 2003, when the son of the complainant, about 8 years of age at that time, had met with an accident and had been taken to Sandhu Hospital of Dr. Tej Pal Singh with multiple injuries. After an X-ray, the doctor had allegedly informed the family of the patient that there was no head injury and he will be cured soon. However, the next day patient's condition started deteriorating and the Dr. Singh allegedly denied providing any treatment to the patient.

Following this, the family members of the patient took the child to Grover hospital in Amritsar. The hospital in Amritsar conducted MRI on the patient and it revealed multiple head injuries.
After the patient died due to alleged delay and wrong treatment, the mother of the deceased child approached the District Consumer Court, Amritsar and alleged that Dr. Singh had committed negligence and wasted precious time of treatment which would have saved the life of the child. Filing complaint before the District Commission, the complainant had claimed for a compensation of Rs 15 lakh.
Partly allowing the complaint, the District Commission directed the Opposite Parties to pay Rs.2,00,000/- as compensation and Rs. 5,000/- as litigation expenses to the Complainants jointly and severally within one month from the date of receipt of the copy of the order.
Being aggrieved, the Insurance Company and the doctor approached the State Commission, which after considering the matter dismissed the complaint.
Thereafter, the complainant, the mother of the deceased child approached the NCDRC bench and filed the instant Revision Petition.
After taking note of the submissions by the counsels of all the parties, the top consumer court perused the entire medical record and noted that the child had suffered accidental head injury and had been treated by Dr Singh in his hospital.
Referring to the fact that Dr. Singh had repeatedly advised the patient's family to take the child to higher facilities, the NCDRC bench observed,
"It is admitted fact that the OP was not a neurologist or neuro-surgeon, but as a first-aid he treated the patient. He advised number of investigations and CT Scan but the said facilities were not available at Sandhu Hospital. The Opposite Party No.1 repeatedly advised the complainants to take the injured to a specialized hospital at Amritsar but the Complainants failed to follow the advice. Therefore, the child was discharged at 9.00 P.M. on same day."
"Thereafter, the child was referred to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital at Amritsar, but the child was taken to Grover Hospital at Amritsar. There the MRI was conducted from Nijjar Scan Centre and reported by Dr. Vijinder Arora, that it was case of multiple haemorrhagic contusions suggestive of DIFFUSE AXONAL INJURY. Moreover, we have perused the evidence from the witnesses Nanak Singh (Ex.R-3), Inderjit Singh (Ex.R-5) and Kashmir Singh (Ex.R-6) who stated that Dr. Tej Pal Singh explained about serious condition of child and he was insisting that the child be taken to the hospital at Amritsar but Lakha Singh father of child was insisting to treat the child in the hospital of the OP," further noted the Commission.
Opining that the patient's parents themselves were reluctant to approach higher centre, the NCDRC bench observed,
"The Diffuse Axonal Injury is a fatal condition. It was treated as an emergency by Dr. Tej Pal Singh and given proper first-aid. We don't find any failure of duty of care from Dr. Tej Pal Singh. There was no evidence of intentional delay in referring the patient to the higher centre. The patient's parents themselves were reluctant to go the higher centre."
At this outset, the Commission also pointed out that after the death of the child, the patient's family came to an understanding with the owner of the offending vehicle and noted,
"It is pertinent to note that the injured expired on 09.02.2003 while under treatment in Grover Hospital and in the meantime Complainants compromised the matter with owner of offending vehicle and the driver after getting handsome amount from them on 11.02.2003 and stated they don't want to proceed and take legal action against anybody; same was recorded on 11.02.2003 at report No.12 in Police Post Nawan Pind, Police Station Jandiala."
Therefore, the Commission observed that there was no medical negligence and stated in the order,
"It is known that at times, the professional is confronted with making a choice between the devil and the deep sea and he has to choose the lesser evil. In our considered view, the emergency First-aid treatment was as per reasonable standard of practice of the Opposite Party No.1. We don't find any negligence or failure of duty of care. The death of injured child was due to the fatal Diffuse Axonal Injury."
"Based on the foregoing discussion, there is no need to interfere with the reasoned order of the State Commission. Same is affirmed," it added while dismissing the Revision petition.
To read the NCDRC order, click on the link below.
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