Negligence of Security guard-Negligence of Hospital: Hinduja told to pay Rs 2.5 lakh for patient fall
Mumbai: Holding the hospital and staff negligent for the fall of spine surgery, who fell from her wheelchair in the hospital premises and suffered a fracture, the Maharashtra state forum has directed P D Hinduja National Hospital to pay a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakhs.
The hospital was held vicariously liable for the negligent acts of its staff and deficiency in service The patient who underwent spinal surgery at the hospital had shown up for a follow-up when she fell from a wheelchair while being taken to the Out-Patient Department from the gate by one of the hospital staffs.
The court further reprimanded the hospital for not informing the patient about the absence of the attending doctor on the day appointed for treatment.
The case relates to a woman who was suffering from multiple health problems and visited the Hinduja hospital for her back pain. On September 24 2012, a major operation (Spine Surgery) was performed on her-(decompression operation at the level of L3, L4 and L5). The patient was admitted in the hospital for 5 days and paid Rs 3, 56, 908 to the hospital for various services hired by her.
On October 9, the patient visited the hospital for a follow up accompanied by her husband in the afternoon at about 13.15 pm. A wheelchair was arranged at the hospital gate and one security guard brought the patient on the wheelchair to the OPD of the operating surgeon.
However, the patient had a fall from the wheelchair near the hospital ramp and suffered severe pain in the left ankle. She was attended by a resident doctor in the department of orthopaedics and x-ray was taken which showed an undisplaced fracture of the tip of lateral malleolus for which ankle brace was advised and some medications were given.
A complaint was moved with the hospital authority against the hospital security staff for the negligence. However, no heed was paid to the complaint. Aggrieved by this behaviour of the hospital, the patient filed a consumer complaint in District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum Central Mumbai and claimed compensation of Rs. 16 lakh towards mental trauma and financial loss.
The forum, after the hearing, held medical negligence and the hospital liable for the injury and directed it to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation.
However, the hospital challenged the forum's decision before this State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Maharashtra. The hospital contended that the patient herself was responsible for the fall as she did not put a belt on the wheelchair in the same when she was taken by the security guard to the OPD.
The counsel further questioned whether a negligent and rash act of staff members other than doctors is considered as medical negligence? and contended; "The district forum has wrongly considered this as a medical negligence case, there is no evidence on record to show that the patient had a fall in the hospital. The name of the security guard was not known to the complainant and there is no justification for claiming the compensation."
The hospital, finally, stated that it is not negligence by the hospital, therefore, judgement and order by the district consumer forum needs to be set aside and complaint to be dismissed.
After hearing the entire case, Justice A P Bhangale observed that it is the duty of the hospital to provide proper services to the patients. The court noted;
"A specialist doctor may treat a patient to the best possible outcome. Along with which the allied services provided by the hospital must be proper and taking care of patients. Patient safety is very important aspect when any patient enters the premises of hospital and it is a legal responsibility of the hospital to protect patient’s safety."
The court added;
"In the instant case, for the irresponsible and negligent behaviour of the hospital staff, maybe by permanent or contract employee of the hospital, the hospital is vicariously liable for the negligent acts of its staff working in the premises of the hospital."
Subsequently, the forum directed the hospital to pay a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh while noting;
"Though learned forum considered this as medical negligence, it is basically deficiency in service on part of the hospital and the hospital is vicariously responsible for the deficiency."