Forum accepts Medical Negligence case where Rs 1 compensation demanded from doctor, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital
Kolkata: The West Bengal State Consumer Commission recently accepted the plea of the deceased patient's kin who filed a medical negligence case demanding a compensation of Rs 1 from the doctors and hospital
The complainant, in this case, stated that he had claimed a token compensation (Re 1/-) and other consequential reliefs but in his petition of complaint, the appellant, stated that he was fighting for a cause, and empathetically wanted to convey to the medical fraternity that negligence does not recur in any other cases where the patient who has been in the care and protection of the Hospital is not neglected at the appropriate time.
The case relates to the patient (wife of the complainant) who was admitted to the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital where she was subjected to a CT scan. Subsequently, it was detected that the patient was suffering from ovarian cancer and accordingly she was admitted at the hospital where she had to undergo surgical treatment by Onco Surgeon. She was discharged after over week post-operation.
Later, the patient was referred to a senior Consultant Oncologist of the Hospital and under his advice and supervision Chemo Therapy and other necessary medicinal treatments were administered to the patient who got such treatment periodically staying at her home and getting admission periodically for therapies and other treatments. The patient was under regular monitoring and check-up as advised by the Doctors.
A few months later, Consultant Oncologist in course of periodical check-up disclosed that the cancerous growth recurred and further doses of Chemotherapies were administered along with necessary supportive treatments. In the course of this treatment, a Chemo Port was implanted surgically by the Onco Surgeon, on the guidance of the senior doctor. The patient was then shifted to surgical ICU for professional medical support and monitoring.
Thereafter, as per the advice of the senior oncologist, Chemo-Port was surgically removed by the surgeon and she was stated to be in a stable condition at that time.
The complainant submitted in his petition that he was intimated that the blood pressure of the patient was falling drastically to which he inquired about the doctor, who was supposed to be in the sole charge of the surgical ICU, to ensure medical care of the patient but he found that the doctor already left the hospital. When he tried to consult the oncologists who were the primary consultants for requesting them to visit the surgical ICU and to attend the patient, they did not take positive steps on that count, he alleged.
The complainant continued to wait for a doctor to attend the patient properly but soon afterwards, he was informed by the Nurses of surgical ICU that the patient suffered a cardiac arrest and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was being administered on her. Later she died.
The complainant alleged that due to gross negligence on the part of the hospital authorities and the treating doctors, the patient met premature death, particularly when she was shifted to the surgical ICU after the operation in a stable condition. He preferred an Application U/s 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure against the doctors and cognizance was taken under section 304A of the IPC against all of them. An enquiry was conducted into the same.
The complainant had first approached the District Forum that held in the favour of the hospital and the doctors; aggrieved by which, he moved the state commission.
The complainant further filed a Petition before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission claiming compensation but the said petition of complaint was dismissed for want of pecuniary jurisdiction and liberty was given to the complainant to file a fresh complaint before the Appropriate Forum for claiming proper reliefs. Thereafter, he moved the District consumer forum stating that the value of the life of his wife cannot be ascertained and as such he prayed for a token sum of Re 1 (Rupee one) as compensation upon the allegation that he lost his wife due to the gross negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the doctors and the hospital.
In response, the hospital and the treating doctors; denying and disputing all other allegations submitted before the court that the patient was in a terminal condition with advanced metastatic malignancy with omental and peritoneal deposit at her abdomen, distending and preventing her from breathing for which she was mechanically ventilated along with severe sepsis with septic shock. They stated that cardiac arrest is an emergency life-threatening situation with very limited time available to react in order to save life.
In its decision, the District forum while disposing of the Case found that the complainant miserably failed to prove the case against the OPs that there was any medical negligence on their part or any unfair trade practice adopted by them, held the Complaint case devoid of merit and dismissed the same accordingly.
The matter then reached the commission. The point of consideration which rose before the state commission was whether district forum was justified in dismissing the Complaint.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing on behalf the complainant had submitted that doctors did not provide due care and attention to the patient when much care and attention were needed to minimize her sufferings. The Complainant filed the Complaint not for realizing any amount from the Hospital Authority or the Doctors rather he was fighting for a cause to give a message to the medical fraternity that such thing does not recur in any other cases where the patient who has been in the care and protection of the Hospital is not neglected at the appropriate time.
It was submitted that not only the treating Doctors were liable for negligence but the Hospital Authority who has engaged those Doctors in treating the patient were equally responsible and as such it would be vicariously liable for the acts of negligence, committed by the Doctors.
Responding to these contentions, the counsel on behalf of the doctors notified the court that the West Bengal Medical Council had stated that no negligence could be substantiated against the doctors while upholding the order of the district forum.
Noting all the submissions and contentions made before the commission, the bench presided by Ishan Chandra Das and Members Samiksha Bhattacharya and Shyamal Kumar Ghosh observed that the complainant never alleged any sort of medical negligence against the Hospital or the treating Doctors in course of the long lasting treatment for about two years, save and except the date when the complainant found that her patient who was in a critical condition was left carelessly at the surgical ICU and she ultimately breathed her last.
The court further took note of the opinion given by Prof Dr AKGupta wherein he stated that the death of the patient was due to rash and negligent action the part of the consultants and other attending doctors and Director, Medical Services.
After going through all the medical records, bills and opinion of Prof Ajay Gupta the medical board has made the following observations:
"Considering the patient condition a case of metastatic Carcinoma Ovary post Chemotherapy with Candida Septicaemia on high intropic support and ventilator support ….
The patient has not been attended by the doctors of surgical ICU from 2 A.M. of 30.7.2014 to 9 a.m. same day as there is no documentation of notes. Such serious patients should be attended frequently.
There is no documentation of notes informing patient's relatives about the seriousness of patient's condition.
The treating consultants were not informed about the deterioration of patients condition as there is no documentation of notes : However no definite evidence of absence of any doctor on duty of surgical ICU ( as complained by the petitioner) was not found as there are notes at 2 a.m. on 30.7.2014 and 9 a.m. on 30.7.2014. It can only be confirmed if attendance sheet and duty roster of doctors of that particular day can be checked."
Considering the aforesaid findings, the bench observed that when the patient's condition became critical in the surgical ICU, she was not attended by the Doctors herein though they were entrusted to do so but their carelessness furthered sufferings of the patient who became restless before breathing her last. In such a state it caused the hamper of emotions of her relatives and it became the multi-super special carelessness on the part of the multi-super speciality Hospital.
Reaching its conclusion, the bench stated:
The district forum instead of addressing the issues involved in the Complaint case unnecessarily quoted some decisions of the Hon'ble Higher Courts and came to the conclusion that the complainant did not deserve any relief.
Ultimately, the bench found the complaint as valid and held the doctor deficient service:
Here the complainant claimed a token compensation (Re 1/-) and other consequential reliefs but in his Petition of complaint , the appellant herein, stated that he was fighting for a cause, as pointed out earlier and in the given facts and circumstances of the case and on perusal of the report of the Experts' Board, we find substance in his allegations. Since the complainant does not pray for any substantive amount of compensation, more discussion on this issue would be a fruitless exercise, rather concurring with the findings of the Board and Experts', as quoted hereinabove we find substance in the allegations of carelessness of the Hospital Authority as well as the attending Doctors i.e. the OPs/Respondents herein and we find substance in the argument, as advanced by the ld.Counsel for the Appellant.
Attached below is the judgment in detail