Dengue death: Doctor directed to pay over Rs 14 lakh on account of negligence, hospital acquitted
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission recently held a city-based doctor guilty of negligence and directed him to pay a compensation of Rs 14.14 lakh to the kin of a patient, who died of septicemia as a result of dengue.
The case concerned a 45-year-old woman who was suffering from breathing problems and insufficient sleep. The patient was referred by her physician to a doctor, who owns a hospital in Krishnanagar. The patient was diagnosed with anemia and prescribed a blood transfusion. The doctor advised her to get admission to Anand Surgical Hospital at Naroda Road.
On October 26, 2010, the patient got admitted to the hospital and a blood transfusion was conducted. However, she was diagnosed with a low hemoglobin level due to infection by one of the doctors on duty.
As per the complaint, the doctor allegedly did not pay any attention to the same and assured the family that blood transfusion will take care of her problem. However, after a few days, the patient's condition deteriorated severely and she was diagnosed with dengue as well.
The complainant alleged that "Because of administration of blood, it might have increased hemoglobin levels to some extent but on the other hand the doctor informed him that her kidney is got damaged, her abdomen now shows distention and some free gas had been observed in it. Thereafter, the doctor recommended for test pertaining to dengue IgG which was carried out at Divine Micropath Laboratory on 29th and it was found that she was positive. This clearly indicates that the internal infection that was observed by the doctor on duty had caused serious damages to her and it seems to have been gone unnoticed by the doctor."
The complainant added, "Because of carelessness and casual approach of the doctor, the underlying cause of her illness seems to have not diagnosed properly and resultantly she is suffering lot and her real treatment is thus delayed. Before any line of treatment is thus selected, the said ailment had caused further damage to her health. Once having come to know about the internal infection, the doctor was expected to treat her cautiously but he continued with the same line of treatment except for few minor change with regard to the administration of medicine here and there, which he did just to make a show that he had altered the line of treatment."
Thereafter, the doctor called for another doctor and the patient was shifted to another hospital, where she was put on ventilator support. Thereafter, the patient was moved to the Civil Hospital, wherein, it was found that she had developed septicemia and ultimately died on November 12.
After a year, in 2011, the deceased's husband blamed the treating doctors, hospital, and an insurance agency, and moved a complaint against them with the consumer commission. The complainant sought compensation for her death caused due to medical negligence.
Responding to the allegations, the doctors and hospitals denied the charges of medical negligence. On part of the doctor, it was argued that due care was taken to deal with the infection and the patient was given antibiotics.
The primary doctor informed that the patient was first under the treatment of an ayurvedic doctor for the first 10 days for fever and cough. When her condition did not improve she was brought under his care at the hospital where her ECG showed Tachycardia and immediate hospitalisation was recommended. Based on the early reports, a provisional diagnosis of Septecemia+ Anaemia was made, The X-ray chest and 2D Echo were also done and the report was suggestive of COPD & pleural effusion. Thereafter the patient was referred to be admitted to a higher centre and hence was admitted to Anand Hospital. At Anand Hospital, she was under the care of the ICU specialists and her tests also revealed dengue positive. He further denied any lapses in the treatment at the said hospital pointing out he had treated as per accepted medical practice and therefore not a guilty for any negligence or deficiency in service.
The doctor, in a written version, stated;
"There is no fault, imperfection or shortcoming or inadequacy in quality, nature, and manner of performance required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force."
Similarly the ICU specialisy also denied any negligence pointing out in detail what steps were taken at the hospital to manage the condition of the patient
The hospital also denied any lapses on its part. Pointing out that the patient was brought to the hospital and she was immediately attended by the duty doctor and thereafter she was exclusively under care of primary physician till her discharge.
"The hospital is providing all infrastructures to the consultant doctor and the medical treatment is provided strictly as per the consultant‟s instructions by the hospital staff. The hospital has provided only infrastructure and paramedical services and has not played any role as far as her Medical treatment was concerned. There is no negligence and no deficiency in service, unfair trade practice, no fault, imperfection or shortcoming or inadequacy in quality, nature and manner of performance required to be maintained by or under any law for the time being in force," its response stated
The court went in detail the case files of the patient and noted that the patient came under care of primary doctor on 25.10.2010 when provisional diagnosis of sepsis and anaemia were made, but the doctor finally made the diagnosis of dengue on 29.10.2010
When she did not respond to treatment of Dr. Gupta he doubted of dengue which in a test were found positive the same day on 29th . The suggestions that Mr. Mishra made on 29th also did not work, hence he telephoned him on 1st November. She was being shifted subconscious from Anand Hospital to Nidhi Hospital, there she was diagnosed on admission of dengue fever, brain white matter oedema, paralytic ileus on 01.11.2010; was found with remote possibility of encephalopathy, on discharge on 09.11.2010, she was diagnosed of dengue fever with white matter Obedema with ARDS with ARF with obstructive sleep apnea + Paralytic ileus. This shows the plight of her condition for failure to diagnose dengue and treat the dengue. All these clearly prove negligence of Dr. Gupta-Opponent No.1.
Subsequently, the State Commission after examining the case held one of the doctors liable for medical negligence while another doctor and two of the hospitals named in the case were acquitted. The court held,
"The doctor has admitted his patient in Anand Hospital. It is not that the patient directly admitted into Anand Hospital and it, in turn, called the doctor for the treatment. Therefore for the negligence of the doctor, Anand Hospital cannot be held vicariously liable. There is nothing to find any negligence on the part of Anand Hospital. Accordingly, Anand Hospital cannot be held liable."
The forum also discharged the liability of the insurance company also as the accused doctor's action was not covered under its policy.
The court finally directed the doctor to pay Rs.14,14,000/-.as total compensation on the line of the complaint with a 6% interest during the pendency of the case for a decade.
To access the official judgment, click on the link below-