Implanted Plate Gets Broken: Consumer Court holds Hospital liable for purchase, directs compensation
Ahmedabad: Noting that the hospital purchased the plates and the invoice suggests so, the State Consumer Court, Gujarat recently directed a city-based super speciality hospital to pay compensation to a patient, whose implanted plate got broken after the operation.
Although the Hospital urged that the plate was bought by the patient himself, the Commission noted that the invoice was in the name of the Hospital and observed: "Normally biomaterials like eye lenses, stent, plates, Pacemaker which are used in operations are purchased by the Hospital/Doctor because patient being a layman has not any knowledge about the quality of such biomaterials. In the present case as per retail invoice the opponent Hospital has purchased plates because patient was layman and therefore it was upon the opponent Hospital to decide that what type of plate and plate of which Company it to be purchased."
The case goes back to 2011 when the patient met with a car accident, received severe injuries to his left hand and was admitted to the concerned treating facility where he was advised to undergo surgery after preliminary examination by the doctors.
The doctors upon examination found that there were multiple fractures in the left hand from shoulder to elbow. It was stated by the patient that the doctors at the treating hospital implanted an imported plate and bolt in the left hand and also assured that he would be cured within a short time.
However, despite taking all precautions and following all the instructions, around five months after discharge, the patient suffered unbearable pain in the left-hand operation spot and consulted the doctors at the hospital, who informed him that the implanted plate was broken. Thus, the Complainant was advised for another operation to implant a new plate.
Dissatisfied with the treatment, the patient consulted another doctor at a second hospital, who operated on the left hand and after bone grafting treatment, the new plate was implanted and he got discharged from the hospital. This whole procedure cost around Rs 1,17,500 and for getting compensation for the said amount the complainant had approached the District Commission, Ahmedabad (Rural) alleging deficiency in service against the first treating hospital.
As the Complaint was dismissed by the District Commission for not impleading the manufacturer of the plate as a party, the patient approached the State Commission, Gujarat.
The counsel for the Complainant argued that the treating hospital and doctors had made arrangements for the purchase of the plate and they were paid by the patient for the same. He further submitted that the Complainant was never aware of the manufacturer as observed by the District Commission and thus he urged that the order passed by the District Consumer Court gets quashed and set aside.
He further pointed out that as the patient prima facie established that the plate was broken without any external force then it is the duty of the hospital and doctors to prove that they were not negligent and thus it was a clear case of Res Ipsa Loquitor.
On the other hand, the counsel for the hospital and doctors contended that the order of the District Commission was just and reasonable and the patient couldn't submit any expert opinion or any literature to prove his case.
The State Commission noted that on the one hand, the patient argued that the Hospital had purchased the plates and the retail invoice of the plate was issued in the name of the hospital, and on the other, the Hospital submitted that they were purchased by the patient.
Meanwhile, the Commission also examined the retail invoice of the plate which specifically mentioned the treating hospital as the party. However, the hospital hadn't produced any evidence to prove that the plates were purchased by the patient.
"Looking to the above retail invoice which was issued in the name of the opponent Hospital. It is crystal clear that the opponent Hospital had purchased the said plates for the operation of the complainant," noted the Commission.
The Commission also took note of the fact that the complainant was operated for the second time for the removal of the broken plate and noted,
"Hence in the opinion of this Commission this is a clear case of Res Ipsa Loquitur and therefore a burden is upon the opponent Hospital to prove that there was no any negligence on their part."
At this outset, the Commission opined,
"Normally biomaterials like eye lenses, stent, plates, Pacemaker which are used in operations are purchased by the Hospital/Doctor because patient being a layman has not any knowledge about the quality of such biomaterials. In the present case as per retail invoice the opponent Hospital has purchased plates because patient was layman and therefore it was upon the opponent Hospital to decide that what type of plate and plate of which Company it to be purchased."
"Furthermore invoice issued in the name of the opponent Hospital and therefore there is no contract between the complainant and manufacture of the plates and hence in the opinion of this Commission for the broken plate, complainant is entitled to get the compensation from the opponents as opponent Hospital has purchased plate and that was implanted in the body of the complainant," the judgment added.
Thus, noting that the order of the District Commission is "not just and proper" the State Commission directed the treating hospital to pay Rs 1,17,500 to the Complainant with interest at the rate of 9% from the date of filing of the compliant till its realization. Apart from this, the hospital was also asked by the Commission to pay Rs 10,000 as costs of the Complainant.
To read the Consumer Court order, click on the link below.