Scissors left Inside body during surgery, Consumer Court slaps urologist, Cancer hospital with Rs 7.5 lakh compensation
Ludhiana: The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has recently directed a treating Urologist and a Ludhiana-based Cancer hospital to pay Rs 7.5 lakh as compensation to the family of a patient, who was diagnosed with urinary bladder cancer. Such a direction came from the consumer court after it took note of the fact that the treating doctor had allegedly left one scissor...
Ludhiana: The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has recently directed a treating Urologist and a Ludhiana-based Cancer hospital to pay Rs 7.5 lakh as compensation to the family of a patient, who was diagnosed with urinary bladder cancer.
Such a direction came from the consumer court after it took note of the fact that the treating doctor had allegedly left one scissor of the size of 7 to 10 inches inside the belly of the complainant during operation.
Directing the doctor and hospital to compensate for this, the Consumer Court noted, "A doctor while carrying out life-saving operation such as surgery to remove cancer from the part of the body, the doctor is supposed to exercise extreme care, caution and due diligence and even slightest of error or mistake can play havoc with the life of the patient. Taking into consideration these standards, leaving an object like scissor inside the body of the patient while carrying out surgery is out and out is an act of negligence on the part of the OP3 who had that time was working with the OP1 as an employee."
The history of the case goes back to 2012 when due to some urinary ailments, the complainant had visited the treating hospital, where a doctor upon examining the patient and conducting required tests had concluded that the patient was suffering from urinary bladder cancer and was required to be operated upon immediately.
Consequently, the treating oncologist had conducted the operation and assured that the operation was successful and the complainant was fully cured and the patient was further advised to have cycle of chemotherapy. Accordingly, after discharge, the complainant kept visiting the treating hospital from time to time for chemotherapy which was conducted by another doctor on various dates.
Back in the last week of May 2012, the complainant developed acute pain in his belly and the treating doctor assured that there were no reason to panic and he further prescribed medicines. However, in August, 2012, the complainant developed the belly pain again and he was taken to the Civil Hospital where another doctor conducted x-ray of the belly of the complainant. All the doctors and the attendants of the complainants were astonished to see that one scissor of the size of 7 to 10 inches was found inside the belly of the complainant. The doctor in that hospital had opined that a foreign body was visible in the deli vice area.
Following this, the complainant was taken to PGI Chandigarh, where the scissor was recovered from the belly of the complainant and he remained under treatment there and a sum of Rs 15 lac was spent for this purpose.
It has been alleged by the complainant that the treating doctor at the treating hospital failed to discharge his duties efficiently, carefully and with due diligence. In fact, the doctor acted in a highly negligent manner causing mental and physical pain and agony to the complainant.
Approaching the district consumer court, the complainant sought a compensation of Rs 5 lac spent for the treatment along with Rs 15 lac as compensation for causing mental and physical tension to the complainant.
On the other hand, the treating doctor and hospital contested the complainant. While the hospital and the doctor who had conducted chemotherapy maintained that they were unaware of any pain developed in the complainant and him approaching the treating doctor, who is an Urological surgeon alleged the complaint to be false and frivolous.
Further, the treating doctor in his defense claimed that the complainants had been sent by his rivals and the complainant never approached him for showing or removal of any retained surgical instrument and the discharge ticket of PGI had not been produced on record as well.
Meanwhile, during the pendency of the complaint, the complainant died and consequently his legal heirs were impleaded in the complaint.
The consumer court took note of the contention made by the treating hospital and the second doctor that if during the operation any such foreign substance would have been left in the stomach, it would have caused damage to the abdomen. The retention of scissor of size of 7 to 10 inches for such a long time is totally unimaginable.
The accused doctor referred to similar contentions- including the fact that in order to prove that a foreign body was found in the stomach of the complainant, only one single view x-ray film is not adequate. No opinion of any qualified radiologist was taken, further contended the doctor.
It was also argued by the counsel for the doctor that in the abdomen x-ray, sometimes a shadow of metallic kripan or belt gives false artifact shadows. That does not mean that there is kripan in the abdomen of the patient. It has further been contended that in the AP view, anything coming between x-ray tube and x-ray camera would surface in the film. No lateral view was taken in this case. Only from the lateral view x-ray, the conditions about depth in the body could be ascertained.
However, while considering the contentions made by the counsel for the doctor, the consumer court found them devoid of any force or substance. "It is a well settled law that under the Consumer Protection Act, the complaints are decided by way of summary procedure. Primarily the proceedings before the Civil Court are civil in nature. It is equally well settled proposition of law that civil cases are decided by way of preponderance of evidence unlike criminal cases, where the onus of proving the case to the hilt is on the prosecution alone. The complaint under the Consumer Protection Act cannot be said to be a criminal complaint in which the burden to prove solely can be put on the complainant alone. Rather, as stated above, the complaints are to be decided on the principle of preponderance or probability of evidence. Keeping in view the above proposition of law, the evidence has to be evaluated," noted the consumer court of Ludhiana.
Noting that the no interrogations were posed regarding the observations made by the treating doctor who discovered the scissor, the consumer court opined that the accused doctor and hospital, , in a way, did not challenge and dispute the observations made by the other doctor.
"Thus, it can be safely inferred and held that a foreign body i.e. scissor was detected in the abdomen of the complainant on 09.08.2012. There is absolutely no evidence or any possibility that in between i.e. after surgery and before the scissor was detected in the abdomen, the complainant underwent any other surgery. Even otherwise, it seems to be highly improbable that a patient, who reposed complete faith in the doctor who performed surgery to save him from a serious disease of cancer, would level false allegations or manipulate or twist facts to raise an accusing finger against the same doctor i.e. OP3," opined the Commission.
Further referring to the arguments that the complaint was made under the influence of the enemies of the treating doctor as "far-fetched", the Commission noted,
"A doctor while carrying out life saving operation such as surgery to remove cancer from the part of the body, the doctor is supposed to exercise extreme care, caution and due diligence and even slightest of error or mistake can play havoc with the life of the patient. Taking into consideration these standards, leaving an object like scissor inside the body of the patient while carrying out surgery is out and out is an act of negligence on the part of the OP3 who had that time was working with the OP1 as an employee."
"As a result of above discussion, the complaint as against the OP2 is dismissed but the same is allowed as against the OP1 and OP3 with an order that they shall jointly and severally pay a sum of Rs.7,00,000/-(Rupees Seven Lacs) as compensation to the complainants along with interest @7% per annum from the date of filing of complaint till the actual payment along with Rs.50,000/- as litigation expenses. The compliance of the order be made within 40 days from the date of receipt of copy of order," mentioned the order.
To read the order, click on the link below.
Barsha completed her Master's in English 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.