Lasik Surgery Caused Retinal Displacement: Consumer Court holds Doctor, Hospital Guilty Of Medical Negligence
New Delhi: Finding no fault in the State Commission's order directing the Lucknow-based doctor and eye hospital to compensate for botched-up eye surgery by paying Rs 10 lakh, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has held them as guilty of medical negligence in conducting Lasik surgery, which ultimately caused retinal detachment to the patient.
Upholding the previous order by the State Commission, Mr Dinesh Singh, Presiding member of NCDRC mentioned in the order dated 01.04.2021, "Permanent damage to an eye cannot be quantified in monetary terms. However, as observed by the State Commission, the Award made by the District Forum appears just and equitable in the facts of the case."
Opining that the treating doctor and hospital were at fault, the order further mentioned, "Medical negligence in conducting the Lasik surgery caused the retinal detachment. Thereafter, timely referral to a higher medical facility was not made."
The case concerned a Lucknow-based patient, who consulted the treating doctor with complaints of high myopia in his eyes. As the doctor advised Lasik surgery, the patient got admitted to the treating hospital and the procedure was undertaken by the doctor on 19.06.2010. However, the surgery resulted in Retinal displacement in the left eye of the patient.
Following this, another operation was conducted upon the patient on 14.11.2010 by the same doctor using the gas procedure. Although the patient was discharged the next day, the injury in the left eye of patient couldn't be corrected.
The treating doctor thereafter informed the patient that the patient now needed to undergo a silicon oil procedure due to the unsuccessful gas procedure. The same procedure was conducted upon the patient on 29. 08.2012. However, the problem remained all the same.
After this, the doctor informed the patient about his inability to do anything else and advised the patient to seek help from higher medical facilities in Delhi, Chennai, or Mumbai.
In pursuance, when the patient approached a doctor in a Mumbai hospital in the first week of November 2012, the doctor informed him that due to multiple operations his eye had been irreparably damaged and the possibility of improvement was negligible.
Following this, the patient approached the District Forum in Lucknow and lodged a complaint. Opining that the left eye of the Complainant was damaged due to the negligence of the Doctor / in the Hospital, the District Forum in the order dated 21.04.2017 directed the doctor and the hospital to pay Rs. 10 lakhs as compensation, Rs 20,000 for causing mental agony to the complainant, and Rs 5,000 as costs of the complaint. They were further asked to pay an extra amount of Rs 77,000 which was the amount spent on his retirement, along with interest.
However, in response, the treating doctor and the hospital and approached the State Commission. The State Commission, in its order dated 25.11.2019, opined that the District Forum was correct in its findings.
The Complainant had relied upon the Medical Literature and Medical Prescription referred by Hon'ble National Commission. It mentioned that after the Lasik Surgery, Decentred ablation occurs due to improper Lasik treatment on the pupil of an eye.
The State Commission further took note of the fact that the treating doctor had submitted before the District Forum that after the Lasik operation complainant used contact lens, due to which retina of the left eye detached.
Referring to the discharge summary after the Lasik operation, signed by the treating doctor, the State Commission further mentioned, "Only one precaution has been mentioned in its Post Operation Management that "Avoid water in the operative eye for one week". No advice for not using the contact lens has been mentioned in it. Therefore even if this statement of the defendants is accepted that contact lens should not be used after the Lasik operation but complainant used the contact lens which caused the detaching of the retina, even then medical negligence of the defendant No. 2 is clear because no advice has been given in the Discharge summary for not using the contact lens."
"Defendants have stated that complainant used Contact Lens after Lasik Operation due to which retina of the left eye detached but there is no evidence or ground to accept this, however, it is clear from the Medical literature referred to in the judgment of Hon'ble National Commission that Retina Detachment is possible due to defect in Lasik Surgery," further mentioned the State Commission.
Based on all the facts and findings, the State Commission held the treating doctor and hospital guilty of medical negligence and determined that the compensation awarded by the District Forum was just and equitable. Although the complainant had prayed for enhancement of the amount of compensation, the State Commission found the amount fixed by the District Forum as just and appropriate.
Challenging the order of the State Commission, the doctor along with the hospital approached the National Commission. However, after listening to all the contentions and looking at all the facts and findings of the case, the National Commission opined,
"The State Commission has passed a well-appraised reasoned Order. It has concurred with the findings of the District Forum. No palpable error in appreciating the evidence is visible. The Award made by the District Forum, as upheld by the State Commission, appears just and equitable in the facts of the case. No jurisdictional error or legal principle ignored, or miscarriage of justice is visible."
"It is well evinced that the Lasik procedure was not performed with reasonable care and skill, it caused retinal displacement. Rather than most immediately referring the patient (the Complainant) to a higher medical facility, trialing by way of gas and then silicon oil procedures was undertaken. When these too were not successful, rather than a detailed professional referral, giving the complete case history, to a higher medical facility, callous general oral advise to get treated at Delhi, Chennai or Mumbai was offered," further added NCDRC.
Establishing medical negligence and deficiency against the Doctor and the Hospital, the National Commission mentioned,
"Permanent damage to an eye cannot be quantified in monetary terms. However, as observed by the State Commission, the Award made by the District Forum appears just and equitable in the facts of the case."
Adding that the appeal filed by the doctor and the hospital before the National Commission was totally ill-conceived and completely bereft of merit, the NCDRC further directed them to pay Rs 50,000 to the Complainant within four weeks of the procurement of the order.
To view the original judgment, click on the link below.