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Hospital Absolved, but Doctor fined Rs 41 lakh in medical negligence case

Hospital Absolved, but Doctor fined Rs 41 lakh in medical negligence case

Mumbai: Calling it not a case of accident but blameworthy rashness, the Maharashtra State consumer dispute redressal commission was seen ordering a doctor to pay a compensation of Rs 41 lakh in a case of medical negligence that led to the death of a female patient 15 years ago.

The commission observed that Dr Ashit Hegde, intensivist attached to PD Hinduja Hospital  lacked skill and due care while treating her for collection of fluid around her lungs that resulted in a rupture of her spleen leading to her death.

The case was that of a 35 year old female, who had come to casualty to the hospital, with complaints of breathlessness and chest pain. She had earlier been advised hospitalization on account of suspected hepatitis. At the casualty Dr Hedge diagnosed her with Plerual Effusion and began treatment with procedure of tapping to take out excess fluid.

The family of the patient alleged that the doctor was negligent during treatment and punctured her spleen while doing tapping for Pleural Effusion, leading to internal bleeding and her eventual death. The counsel for the patient argued that that negligence was evident, as while tapping her with a needle twice to clear the effusion, Dr Hedge had failed to take help of an ultrasound. “There was profuse internal bleeding,” he said. A scan showed that the needle had punctured the spleen. The doctor then admitted her and sought to remove the spleen.

The doctor denied any negligence and argued that the patient suffered from alcoholic hepatitis and early cirrhosis of liver reports TOI.

The commission said, “It is true that the patient would not have survived for many years with such ailments… but Dr Hegde is personally blameworthy for the punctured spleen which hastened the death.”

The doctor had “casually” performed what he said was a “minor procedure” on the woman on July 23, 2002, in the hospital’s casualty section, after diagnosing “pleural effusion”, the commission observed

“The subsequent decision to remove the affected spleen, in a major operation, was the obvious cause of death in post-mortem findings and established the doctor’s negligence,” said the commission while slapping a compensation of Rs 41 lakhs on the doctor.

What is also interesting to note in this case is that based on the arguments put forward by all the parties, the commission concluded that the hospital was not at fault and absolved it. “Hinduja Hospital has no role in the deficiencies in service rendered to the patient,” held Justice A P Bhangale, the commission president, and judicial member D R Shirasao.

“This was not a case of accident but blameworthy rashness…on the part of Dr Hegde,” said the judgment.Hospitals generally have a vicarious liability in cases of medical negligence

While the family had demanded a compensation of Rs 87 lakh, the commission observed the demand to be exorbitant and reduced the amount to Rs 41 lakh

“Compensation cannot be a lottery or a jackpot for a patient who was suffering from jaudince, hepatitis for which she was under Dr Hegde’s treatment.”

Source: with inputs
28 comment(s) on Hospital Absolved, but Doctor fined Rs 41 lakh in medical negligence case

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  1. user
    Dr (capt) Devnandan PD Sinha May 2, 2017, 3:38 pm

    Upbhokta kanoon don\’t fit for human treatment. Only technical expert opnionof same branch of treat must be taken of one or medical team.
    Punish ment of negligence should be proportional to fee deposited by the client.It should be applied to practioner also.
    There is no any hospital in the world whom death can be avoided. Human errors of Docter should not be presumed as medical negligence.
    Example: Jay Lalita CMof Tamil Nadu can not be saved her life even after all medical faculties.

  2. compare to the international scenario the compensation paid for medical negligence in India is way low Thus we have more and more doctors having a very casual attitude and completely fail to exercise due care and medical standard and unfortunately nothing works as deterrent, the fall out being that the numbers of such cases are increasing …. to up the standard of healthcare in India exemplary penalty is a must. i am glad to see courts making a slow but steady move towards it

  3. If you want international treatment standards and compensation you must pay international treatment costs. In India people want international standards but want to pay Rs 100 or Rs 200 as doctor fees even during night time. You can\’t even get any other professional at that point of time even after paying thousands of rupees.

  4. Sir,
    Agree compansation is less compare to the international scenario.
    At the same time compare to the international scenario the cost of medical treatment is too law just considering majority of our patients economical condition ,in this case its easy to say dr had not used sonography by international standard but the patient cost factor in mind of dr is never evident.
    solution seems cover all Indians under mediclaim policy coverage so as for doctors and nobody will have issues,which is the situation in western countries.

  5. By such decision ,doctor will fear and so patients will suffer.

  6. Compensation can not be any amount demanded by patient family . It should be only Drs fees .we all know these decisions are some times involve money transaction among the people involved
    This patient must have had bleeding disorder other wise needle puncture should not bleed to death. Many times in splenic rupture in road accidents spenic ruptures are conserved and sent home .Here this must had abnormality in coagulation . In acutely breathless patient due to plural effusion in causality logical treatment is simple tapping .it must have saved lots of lives .this decision of court would result fear in Drs mind to treat patients for this acute emergency

  7. If all r going to harass doctors like this , that day is not far when we will refuse every patient whom we will consider a future litigation or assault . Court will be amused to find that very few doctors can afford to pay such a huge penalty . Patient can drink , can have cirrhosis , can have congested spleen , has pleural effusion , but when the patient dies , it\’s all fault of doctor n lottery ticket for relatives . Soon , all worthy doctors will either leave country or profession . Hope then society will understand how to treat vital intellect content of country . May be these ungrateful people deserves that future only.