Medical negligence attributed to non-involvement of Specialists: Hospital, Doctors directed to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation
West Bengal: The Asansol bench of West Bengal State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has recently directed a hospital and its treating doctors including a Critical care consultant and orthopedic surgeon to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to a petitioner who alleged that her husband passed away due to medical negligence of the doctors and the hospital. In pronouncing the order,, the commission held negligence on part of the doctors for not involving specialists while treating a trauma patient who was suffering from multiple issues.
In particular, the court noted that the doctor in the ICU, a critical care specialist ordered various set of procedures without the involvement of specialists of the domain
The case was filed by the petitioner alleging further that the doctors did not take note of the CT scan and other reports and due to the deficient service of the hospital and the doctors the patient passed away during dialysis.
Medical negligence is defined as lack of reasonable care and skill or wilful negligence on the part of a doctor in respect to acceptance of a patient, history taking, examination, diagnosis, investigation, treatment – medical or surgical etc. resulting any injury or damage to the patient. The terms 'damage' means physical, mental or financial injuries to the patient. In the instant case, principle resipsa liquitor is applicable. The maxim applies in a case in which certain facts proved by the plaintiff, by itself, would call for an explanation from the defendant without having to allege and prove any specific act or omission of the defendant.
But we find that the patient was planned for dialysis on 18.12.2016. Surprisingly enough the patient was not referred to any nephrologist or the opinion of any nephrologist before planning for Dialysis. Post Mortem Report and Death Certificate reveals that the patient died due to septic shock and it was also noted that tracheostomy was done on but no ENT Specialist was consulted or called at the time of such tracheostomy.
" Septic Shock is a life-threatening condition caused by a severe localised or system-wide infection that requires immediate medical attention. We also find that there was high lipase, amylase was also high but ..... no opinion of gastroenterologist was obtained or the deceased was not referred to any medicine specialist or gastroenterologist."
It is palpable that complainant's husband died due to no diagnosis or wrong diagnosis resulting into irrational therapy or procedure coupled with lack of caution and care constituting collective negligence.
We find the element of breach of duty, negligence, absence of due care, wrong prognosis in the treatment of the deceased by the OPs. Accordingly, we come to hold that OPs are guilty of medical negligence. The maxim of res ipsa loquitar is applicable to medical negligence and in this case also. The maxim is applicable when the negligence is evident. It is a law of torts but it is practically a rule of evidence. Res ipsa loquitur is a doctrine that infers negligence from the very nature of an accident or injury in the absence of direct evidence or how any OP behaved. We find the element of breach of duty, negligence in the treatment of the deceased by the OPs. Accordingly, we come to hold that OPs are vicariously guilty of medical negligence. The expression res ipsa loquitor is not a doctrine but "a mode of inferential reasoning" and applies only to accidents of unknown cause. Negligence on the part of the OPs in the treatment of the deceased is palpable and established beyond all reasonable doubt.
" it cannot be said also with certainty that the patient might have survived or his life would have been saved had he been referred t doctor of medicine, gastroenterologist, nephrologist or ENT Specialist."
OPs are directed jointly and severally in equal proportion to pay an amount of Rs. 10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakh only) to the complainant towards compensation apart from litigation cost of Rs. 25,000/- for medical negligence and deficiency in service within 60 days from the date of this judgements failing which the complainant will be at liberty to put the decree into execution U/S. 27 of the C.P. Act 1986.