Homeopathy doctor held liable for gross negligence in treating carcinoma patient, told to pay compensation
Maldah: Holding that a homeopathy doctor is not a qualified doctor to treat a carcinoma patient, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maldah has directed a homeopathy doctor to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 for gross negligence in the treatment of a patient suffering from carcinoma.
The case concerns a patient who visited the homeopathy doctor in 2016 for the treatment of a small 'fuskuri' in her right breast. The doctor, after examining the patient advised an ultrasound. After examining the report, the doctor informed her that there is nothing to worry about and promised that the problem would be cured after taking some medicines.
On the basis of the assurance as given by the doctor, the complainant continued taking the medicines given by him. However, after one month of treatment, the 'fuskuri' converted into an ulcer. Despite taking more medicines prescribed by the doctor, the ulcer did not heal. Finally, she was advised to get treatment under another doctor.
The second doctor advised for FNAC. In pursuance, the test was done and the reports revealed that she was suffering from carcinoma. On learning this, the patient was rushed to Mumbai Tata Memorial Centre for her treatment.
Later, the patient's daughter moved the Commission alleging that the negligent treatment by the homeopathy doctor has cost suffering to the patient and asked a compensation of Rs 20,00,000 for the same.
The counsel for the complainant argued that the homeopathy doctor treated the patient several times and ultimately advised her to consult another doctor. He further contended if the doctor treated the patient with his utmost skill and care why the doctor needed to advise to consult another surgeon.
The counsel for the patient argued that sebaceous cyst may be benign in nature but there may be a chance of carcinoma. According to his argument due to the longtime of such treatment, the complainant suffered from Ductal Carcinoma in the right breast.
He further argued that in the written version filed by the doctor that he had mentioned that the patient was referred to the surgeon for a better opinion. But the prescription did not mention that the complainant was advised to consult another doctor for a better opinion.
The counsel for the patient further argued that the doctor had the full knowledge that sebaceous cyst may be converted into carcinoma although its range would be very low.
"It is not understood why the doctor did not advise for F N.A.C. when he had the knowledge that the sebaceous cyst may be converted into carcinoma though the range is very low. Though he advised for U.S.G," contended the counsel for the patient.
Mentioning that if the doctor advised the patient for F N A.C. or advised the patient to consult any expert doctor such an unhappy incident would not occur, the counsel for the complainant further argued that it was negligence on the part of the doctor.
However, the medical practitioner denied all the allegations labeled against him contending inter alia that the instant case had not been maintainable in law and facts. The doctor contended that the patient did not follow the doctor's advice as an emergency matter and had neglected herself killing time. Thus, the doctor is not negligent in this case in discharging his duties.
The counsel for the doctor added that sebaceous cyst had been very common and benign in nature. Stating that he treated the patient with full knowledge and efficiency the doctor further prayed before the Commission for the dismissal of the case. He submitted before the Commission that there was no latches or negligence on the part of the doctor.
The homeopathy doctor in his written version submitted that the probability of carcinogenic sebaceous cyst is negligible and its range would be from .01 to .045 percentage. The court noted in the written version of the doctor that he had stated of having the knowledge of Ductal Carcinoma in the right breast of the patient.
The court observed that the homeopathic doctor in order to diagnose can investigate like an allopathic investigation. But it is not understood why the doctor at the earlier stage when the complainant was treated for a long time was not advised for F N A C report. If such advice would be given earlier such an unhappy incident would not occur.
Taking note of all the points, the Commission noted latches and negligence on the part of the doctor, adding that he advised for F.N.A.C although he had a P.G degree in Homeopathic from Jaipur. Thus, the Commission observed that due to lack of care and reasonable skill the complainant suffered physically and mentally. It noted;
"The duty of a medical practitioner arises from the fact that he does something to a human being which is likely to cause physical harm unless it is done with proper care and skill. For the instant case, it is found that the doctor did not perform his duty with standard care and professional skill. If the doctor performed his duty with the highest degree of skill at the earlier stage of treatment such an unhappy incident may not occur. So definitely it is one of the latches on the part of the doctor."
The Commission further observed that the Doctors who belonged to a learned profession are ordinarily expected to maintain a high standard of professional conduct in dealing with their patients.
The Commission was of the view
"What should be the duty of a doctor a person who held himself ready to give medical advice or treatment impliedly indicates that he has best of skill and knowledge for the purpose. Such a person when consulted by a patient owes him certain duties i.e. like a duty of care in deciding whether to undertake the case, a duty of care for treatment is to be given or a duty of care in the administration of such treatment. A breach of any of these duties gives a right of action to the patient for negligence."
It noted, "For the instant case when the doctor took the liability for the treatment he should be careful in the administration of the treatment. It is not understood why at the earlier stage the patient was not advised for a diagnostic stage like F & A.C. It is one of the breach of duty of the doctor and as such the cause of action or right of action, the patient accrues. Moreover, when the treatment or advice has been given by the doctor who knows or ought to know that the patient's condition was such for which he is not qualified to undertake any such case the doctor will be guilty of negligence."
It further noted;
"For the instant case the doctor is not qualified for treatment like carcinoma. Though it is argued that the sebaceous cyst is benign in nature. But the doctor stated that the extent of carcinoma in respect of sebaceous cyst is very low. So he should not treat the patient on the ground that there may be a chance of conversion of sebaceous cyst into carcinoma as the O.P. is not a qualified doctor to treat a carcinoma patient. So it is a gross negligence on the part of doctor."
Subsequently, the Commission directed the homeopath to pay Rs 50,000 as compensation to the complainant for causing mental pain and agony.
"The O.P. is directed to pay the amount within 45 (Forty Five) from the date of order failing which it will carry interest @ 5% p.a. from the date of filing of the case and the complainant will be at liberty to put the decree in execution in the case of default of payment of the O.P."
To view the original judgment, click on the link below.