No Medical Negligence in treating pneumonia, Consumer Court exonerates Physician, Hospital
New Delhi: Upholding the order of the State Commission, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) recently exonerated a physician and a hospital from charges of medical negligence while treating a patient who ultimately died of pneumonia.The wife of the deceased had brought allegations of medical negligence against the doctor and the hospital and blamed improper diagnosis...
New Delhi: Upholding the order of the State Commission, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) recently exonerated a physician and a hospital from charges of medical negligence while treating a patient who ultimately died of pneumonia.
The wife of the deceased had brought allegations of medical negligence against the doctor and the hospital and blamed improper diagnosis and improper treatment as the reason for the patient's demise.
However, the top consumer court exonerated the doctor after 21 years after it took note of the report of the expert- Dr SB Aggarwal, Professor & Head (Medicines) at BJ Medical College, Ahmedabad.
The history of the case goes back to 20 years ago when the husband of the Complainant had approached the treating physician, Dr. Gadhvi, for complaints of cough and cold. After examining the patient, the doctor had advised him X-Ray and sonography. On the basis of the test reports, the physician allegedly advised the complainant to take his husband to the hospital for general check-up without assigning any reasons for the X-ray and sonography.
Two days later, the patient started experiencing stretching in his hand and the mother-in-law of the patient informed the same to the nurse, who administered one injection to the patient and allegedly informed that Dr. Gadhvi was not in the hospital. It has been alleged in the complaint that after giving the injection, the condition of the patient worsened.
On the request of the mother-in-law of the patient, the doctor came to the hospital and after examining the patient, he advised her to shift the patient to Shardaben Hospital.
He, however, did not write any Reference note stating that he would accompany them to the Hospital. At that time, deceased was unconscious and water with foam was coming from his mouth. After examining the patient, the doctor at the Sharda Hospital declared the patient to be dead.
The cause of death in the PM note had been mentioned as septicemic shock due to liver abscess. However, the complainant alleged that the report of Dr. Gadhvi did not mention liver abscess or abdominal pain or jaundice as the cause of death.
It was also alleged that the doctor did not accompany them while shifting the patient and the reports of X-ray an sonography, which had been submitted at the Sharda hospital at the time of admission, had not been returned.
Aggrieved by the improper diagnosis and improper treatment of the deceased done by the doctor and the hospital, the Complainant approached the State Commission and prayed for a compensation of Rs 15 lakh towards mental agony at 24% rate of interest per annum.
On the other hand, the doctor denied all the allegations and submitted that the patient had come to his hospital with complaints of cold, bronchitis and respiratory problems. On being examined, it was found that he had pneumonia in his left lung and, therefore he was advised to get X-Ray Chest as also 2D Echo.
It was seen that the heart beatings of the deceased were fast and pericardial drub in the heart was also noticed. At that time, the relatives of the patient had allegedly informed the doctors that the patient was alcoholic. In this situation, it was essential to admit the patient and the same was done. The deceased was administered higher and broad spectrum antibiotics and was being continuously monitored. All necessary blood and urine test were also advised but any difficulty relating to jaundice or liver could not be detected.
The doctor further claimed that no staff of the hospital had administered any injection to the patient without his knowledge. He further submitted that after the condition of the patient worsened, he had informed the mother-in-law of the patient to shift him to Sharda Hospital. However, ambulance was available after two hours and therefore, the deceased had been sent in rickshaw and Reference Note was also sent along with the staff.
It was also claimed by the doctor that the reason for the patient's death was not liver abscess but it was because of pneumonia and septicemia.
Sharda Hospital submitted that when the patient had been brought to their hospital, the on-duty doctor Dr. Solanki had examined the patient. After examining the patient, she had declared him to be dead and told the relatives of the deceased to get a Post Mortem Examination performed in the Civil Hospital. Therefore, the hospital denied any responsibility for negligence or for paying any compensation.
After considering the matter, the State Commission opined that there was no medical negligence and therefore the complainant approached the NCDRC bench.
The counsel for the doctor argued that the patient was alcoholic. It was submitted that liver abscess is a slowly progressing disease which complicates to the rupture of liver in the lungs or abdomen. Therefore, the patient becomes critical. The doctor's counsel argued that in the instant case, the death was not due to liver abscess, but due to septicemia because of pneumonia. Referring to the history of the patient, the doctor's counsel submitted that the patient had consumed heavy liquor on 31st December eve.
Taking note of the arguments, the NCDRC bench referred to the expert opinion and submitted,
"It is pertinent to note that on the basis of X-ray chest and 2D ECHO report, the patient was immediately admitted. He was not merely suffering from cough and cold, but properly treated for pneumonia. It was confirmed by the opinion of expert - Dr. S. B. Aggarwal, Professor & Head (Medicines) at B.J. Medical College, Ahmedabad. In the opinion, it was stated that the proper treatment for Gram positive and Gram negative anaerobic organisms was given. We further note that the liver enzymes (SGOT & SGPT) were normal, the urinary bile salts and pigments were absent and USG findings were not suggestive of liver abscess. Therefore, the allegation of not giving the treatment for liver abscess is not sustainable."
"We note that the patient was brought in the casualty of the Opposite Party No. 2 Hospital on 04.01.2001 at 8.20 a.m. The doctor on duty – Dr. Ashaben Solanki examined the patient, who was found to be dead. Therefore, the body was sent for Post-Mortem at Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad. As the patient did not bring any medical record, there was no question for the Opposite Party No. 2 to return any documents," it added.
To read the order, click on the link below.
Barsha completed her MA from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.