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Using Expired Lens in Cataract: Doctor told to pay 5 lakhs compensation

Using Expired Lens in Cataract: Doctor told to pay 5 lakhs compensation

Mumbai:  Upholding the decision of a lower forum, The Maharashtra State Consumer Commission, recently slapped a compensation of Rs 5 lakh on an ophthalmologist on account of implanting an expired lens on a patient’s eye.

The court rejecting the doctor’s plea on the case, imposed additional costs quantified in the sum of Rs.25,000/- payable to the complainant. 

The case concerns that of a patient who had first come under treatment by ophthalmologist Dr Hitesh Chheda at Asian Eye Institute &Laser Centre in the year 2007 for cataract in the right eye. After two years of the successful surgery, in 2009, the patient started suffering from blurred vision in the left eye and was advised cataract operation in the left eye  Accordingly, eye surgery was conducted on 28/10/2009 at about 8.00 a.m. and a lens was implanted in the left eye. On the same day, the patient was discharged from the hospital under discharge card in writing.

On the following day, he was called for a checkup but he complained of less vision. The doctor had advised eye drops. However, there is some swelling around his left eye and did not get the normal vision despite a surgical operation and since then had a defect in the sight of the left eye.

In his complaint, the patient stated that empty packet of the lens used for the implant was given in his custody, which was implanted had an expiry date in August 2009. Thus, it is the grievance of the complainant that despite expiry date in August 2009, the lens was used for implanting in the left eye of the complainant.

In his complaint, the patient stated that after the expiry of the lens it cannot be used in surgery and another surgery would be necessary after the expiry of 40 days from the date of operation. Otherwise, the patient may lose vision of left eye permanently.

He added that he complained about this to the doctor, the doctor did not pay any attention to the grievance he was negligent in performing surgery. Hence the complaint with the forum

According to the complainant, the doctor had failed to notice the expiry date on the packet and was blameworthy for carelessness. Thus, compensation was claimed for carelessness/ negligence of the doctor. He informed that grievance was also made to Maharashtra Medical Council regarding carelessness of the doctor which is pending.

After going through the case, the court found the doctor guilty on two accounts

  1. Not taking proper Pre- Operation checkup of the patient, in view of his existing conditions such as DM and hypertension
  2. Using the Expired lens of the patient and attempt to coverup

The court commented on the History of the patient indicating that Dr.Chheda knew about right eye operation done prior to two years as also the history of diabetes mellitus and hypertension which patient suffered. However, surprisingly except blood test no other pre-operation medical check-up and fitness certificate for to undergo surgical operation was insisted upon by Dr.Hitesh Chheda.

According to learned advocate representing appellants  “Since surgical operation performed was minor, doctor had not insisted fitness certificate of the patient. We cannot agree with this submission on behalf of the appellants because in our view when a patient was suffering from diabetes mellitus and hypertension, which are physical illness relating to changes in blood tests as also blood sugar level, doctor should have insisted upon fitness certificate before carrying out the surgical operation in respect of eye of the patient.

The court also observed that there was an attempt of manipulating the material facts in respect of discharge card given to the patient

At page no.C-177 of the proceedings in appeal, date of admission though appears as 28/10/2009, the figure 8 appears to have altered. There is no record of follow-up and number of lens. Serial number is mentioned as 07138H9083410 instead of serial no.12034A9137901, which appears clearly in the packet which is in custody of the patient as well as document of discharge card at page no.C-39 in which follow-up is mentioned as prescribed eye drops Mosid eye drop. Serial number mentioned in the discharge card also matches with serial number of the packet produced for our perusal on behalf of the complainant. We therefore must note that there is an attempt to cover up by the opponent no.1 for the carelessness or negligence committed by him

The  court then upheld the order of the lower court and dismissed the appeal of the doctor

“Under these circumstances, when the doctor despite having noticed the history of diabetes mellitus and hypertension of the patient did not insist upon fitness certificate for undergoing the cataract operation, furthermore implanted eye lens which were expired in August 2009, two months prior to the operation conducted resulting in diminished eye sight of left eye. For the reasons therefore we do not find anything wrong or illegal in the impugned order for awarding compensation in favour of the complainant in the sum of Rs.5 lakhs and interest payable by the doctor @ 10% p.a. w.e.f. 23/04/2010 i.e. date of filing of the complaint. The impugned judgment is well reasoned based upon facts which came to the notice of the Learned District Forum.”

Attached is a judgement below

Source: with inputs
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