Relief to Radiologist, Hyderabad Hospital: NCDRC junks Rs 6 crore compensation plea
Hyderabad: Holding the compensation plea filed by the patient as vague and grossly overvalued at Rs 6 crore, the National Consumer District Redressal Commission has granted major relief to a Hyderabad based private hospital and its radiologist. While dismissing the entire petition that demanded Rs 6 crore as compensation, the NCDRC clearly noted that the the "complaint is over-valued at about six crores."
The case relates to the patient, complainant in the case, who approached the concerned Continental Hospital with symptoms of yellow discharge from the left nostril. After the checkup, a doctor at the hospital asked the patient to undergo CT Cisternography and the test for the liquid.
It was the case of the patient that unless the liquid to be identified as CSF by the test on Beta-2 transferrin, the CT Cisternography was not necessary. The OP-2 at first instance did not advise to undergo Beta-2 transferrin test prior to the invasive CT. However, the doctor himself took the decision to go ahead with the CT Cisternography.
The patient had signed the consent form for the procedure. As per the consent form, there was mention of only pain and side effects, he stated in his petition.
The counsel appearing on behalf of the patient alleged that the patient was kept in dark about the spinal tap as a part of CT Cisternography test and risk. He further alleged that during the procedure, a Radiologist had inserted a long needle in his spine, without explaining anything about the procedure. However, the patient did not object at that point of time. After the procedure, he was asked to leave the hospital, the petitioner added.
On this, it was alleged that according to the expert opinion any person who undergoes spinal tap (lumbar puncture) must lie flat for at least four hours to seal the spinal leak. Same was not informed to him.
It was averred that on the same night of the procedure, he felt neck stiffness, headache dizziness and loss of balance while walking. Therefore, on the next day, he rushed to another doctor working in the same hospital who opined that the injection given on in the spine has created the CSF leak and therefore, he suffered the side effects. He was advised four days rest and accordingly he was admitted in the hospital.
He then moved the CTO of the hospital and filed a complaint. The patient further alleged that after two days, but he was kicked out of the hospital with the help of the police.
Submitting the aforesaid accusations, the patient then filed a complaint before the Medical Council of India last year. He then sent the legal notice to the hospital but received bare denial reply.
Aggrieved and alleging that suffering due to alleged negligence and omission in the treatment from the hospital as well as a deficiency in service and unfair trade practice, he filed the consumer complaint before the Commission with the prayer to compensate him over Rs 6 crore.
During the hearing of the petition, the bench noted the reply furnished by the consultant radiologist at Continental Hospital before the Telangana State Medical Council (TSMC). He categorically stated that the patient was counselled repeatedly and reassured by him and Neurologist and the CTO of the hospital reassured to look into the incident, however, the patient repeatedly threatened the doctor and staff of dire consequences. He also sat on a protest at Hospital entrance (lobby) causing hindrance to other patients. Therefore, not being able to convince him and control his aggressive behaviour, the hospital sought the help of local police, the doctor had stated in his reply.
The bench further took note that for the patient's reassurance-MRI brain with contrast and MRI of the lumbosacral spine was conducted in the hospital. It was done without any cost to the patient. There was no evidence of CSF leak at lumbar puncture site. For secondary opinion, if required, the report and CD of the scan was also handed over to the patient.
The bench failed to see any significance to the instant case as, after a year of the episode, nothing abnormal was reported therein.
It was observed that the patient had not given any justification to his prayer made in this complaint.
With regard to the highly inflated claim, the bench relied upon the few decisions of Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Commission wherein the significance of the claims as challenged.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Tara Devi Vs. Sri Thakur Radha Krishna Maharaj , (1987) 4 SCC 69 and in Nandita Bose vs. Ratanlal Nahata (1987) 3 SCC 705 discussed such issue. In the later case, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has held as under:
"The principles which regulate the pecuniary jurisdiction of civil courts are well settled. Ordinarily, the valuation of a suit depends upon the reliefs claimed therein and the plaintiffs valuation in his plaint determines the court in which it can be presented. It is also true that the plaintiff cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court by either grossly over-valuing or gross under-valuing a suit. The court always has the jurisdiction to prevent the abuse of the process of law¦. But the question whether she was entitled to claim mense profits or damages in respect of the period subsequent to February 1, 1995 could not have been disposed of at a preliminary stage even before the trial had commenced. That question had to be decided at the conclusion of the trial alongwith other issues arising in the suit. Having regard to some of the decisions on which reliance is placed by the appellant in the course of the appeal, we are of the view that matter is not free from doubt?
In their verdict on the present case and dismissing the plea, the bench of Presiding member A Thakur and member Dr Kantikar observed that the complaint is over-valued at about six crores.
The bench also based its decision on the fact:
the complainant has filed the complaint being ignorant of medical procedures. The post lumber puncture headache is a known complication in a few patients and it is reversible. The procedure of CT cisternography was duly performed, after informed consent, by the OP-3 doctor. It was merely an assumption by the complainant that there was a leak at the site of lumber puncture. Such an assumption is not acceptable. Thus the instant complaint is vague, apart from being grossly inflated. Complaint is accordingly dismissed.