New Delhi: In a recent judgement given by the Delhi State Consumer Forum, a hospital in New Delhi was saddled with a punitive costs of Rs 30 Lakh, after the forum found that it had employed a pharmacist as a doctor, who while performing a delivery left a needle inside a patient’s uterus.
The case goes back to 2009, when a patient was admitted to Shree Jeewan Hospital for delivery and gave birth to a female child. However, while conducting the delivery,the doctors allegedly left a needle in her uterus leading to severe bleeding, Next day x-ray was conducted which revealed that a needle had been left in her uterus. Doctor Akash conducted the surgery later at night and needle was removed. Another ultrasound two months later revealed that her uterus had actually retroflexed. Demanding compensation the patient filed a complaint with the district forum
Expert committee report at Delhi Medical Council on the matter opined that the breaking of needle does happen occasionally during stitching of wounds and hence the hospital could not be held liable for negligence. The district court however, held the hospital guilty of negligence, which was then challenged with the state forum, in the concerned petition.
Simultaneously, patient filed an FIR with the police, which was challenged by the hospital in the High court. Police enquiry however revealed that there was tampering done by the hospital in the record which were then taken up by the high court
The fact remains that during course of investigation, original treatment sheet of complainant was taken into police possession, which reveals that it has cutting on ‘Page 3’ on the original notes and name of Dr. Anita and nurse Chunchun has been added, which were not there in the earlier notes provided by the hospital authorities
Moreover, inquiry further revealed that the delivery was not carried out by the doctor, but a registered pharmacist employed by the hospital
It is not in dispute that the hospital is registered in the name of Dr. Suman Sabharwal…… Dr. Anita of the aforesaid Hospital in reply to questionnaire submitted that Dr. Raheen had performed the delivery of the complainant Rubina. It is pertinent to mention here that Ms. Raheen is registered with Delhi Pharmacy Council only as a Pharmacist, whereas she has been alleged to be a Doctor by the hospital authority. Thus, the petitioner no. 1 ( the hospital, through its chairman) had employed a Pharmacist to carry out the surgery . This shows an utter carelessness on the part of the petitioner no. 1, in whose name the hospital is registered. Thus petitioner no. 1 conspired and manipulated with the record.
Taking cue from the high court judgement and stating that Lack of competence per se amounts to negligence, the court held the hospital guilty of negligence
Instead of employing a qualified doctor who draws a salary around rupees two lakhs, appellant hospital is getting the job done by a pharmacist. How many such episiotomy wounds have been stitched by Dr. Raheen is anybody’s guess.
Combined with the fact that a needle was left inside the patient’s uterus, the State Commission dismissed the appeal filed by the hospital, holding it guilty of negligence and imposing a punitive damages of Rs 30 lakh on the hospital
…the appeal preferred by the appellant hospital is dismissed. Appellant hospital is burdened with costs of Rs. 30,00,000/- (Rs. Thirty Lacs) for being ‘negligent’ and ‘deficient in service’ as discussed above. The said costs shall be deposited by the appellant hospital in Consumer Welfare Fund of the State maintained by this Commission. Let these costs be deposited within a period of sixty days from today failing which it shall carry interest @ 12% p.a