Stating Claimant could not prove Medical Negligence by doctors, Forum absolves gastroenterologist, anaesthetist
Thiruvananthapuram: Observing that the Complainant couldn't submit any material to prove medical negligence on part of the hospital and doctors who performed Colonoscopy on him, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Thiruvananthapuram has exonerated the doctor of the charges laid against him.
The District Consumer Court bench comprising of President Sri. P.V.Jayarajan, Mrs. Preetha G. Nair (Member), and Mr. Viju V. R. (Member) made it quite clear that Courts have to be circumspect when dealing with cases of medical negligence and there is a rather heavy burden of proof cast on the complainant to bring home his case.
The case goes back to 2012 when the Complainant had allegedly visited the treating hospital, Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) and consulted the gastroenterologist there for slight trouble of bowel irritation. As the doctor had suggested Colonoscopy, the same was performed at the treating hospital on 26.04.2012.
However, the Complainant alleged that there was negligence on the part of the treating gastroenterologist and Anesthesiologist in conducting the colonoscopy. The Complainant said that before the examination, he was a healthy, active person and after the colonoscopy he became very weak, suffers, loss of active limb movement, loss of weight etc.
Complaining that the Colonoscopy was done with an utter lack of disregard, he approached the District Commission and stated that the treating doctors at the KIMS were clearly and directly responsible for the the present condition of the Complainant.
On the other hand, the doctor and hospital denied such allegations and submitted that the complainant had visited the hospital with complaints of abdominal pain and altered bowel habits for last several months. He had also disclosed that he had upper endoscopy elsewhere and was reported to be unremarkable. In the circumstance, on the basis of alleged complaints, a colonoscopy was planned for him in view of the symptoms, to exclude colonic polyps, colon cancer etc. Anesthesia consultation was done, the patient was found medically fit for the Colonoscopy.
Following this, the Colonoscopy was done on 17/04/2012 under monitored anaesthesia care (MAC) and the procedure went on smoothly without any problems.
They further informed the Commission that after the procedure was completed the complainant developed rashes presumable due to drug reaction. He was immediately attended to and, with proper medications the patient recovered and discharged in good physical condition.
In fact, they alleged that when the Complainant came for review, he was in perfect health and very much satisfied with the care given to him. Alleging that the Complaint was nothing but an exaggeration and had no nexus to reality, they denied any unfair trade practice at all and claimed that the discharge summary would reveal the true facts related to the case.
Contending that the complaint was filed much after the discharge, the doctors and the hospital alleged that the Complaint is nothing but "a calculative attempt arising out of ill advice".
They further submitted that the alleged weakness of the complainant, if true is not an outcome of the Colonoscopy or the procedures followed by the doctors and the claim of the complainant is false and frivolous and liable to be dismissed.
After listening to both the parties the District Commission noted,
"It is well settled that a medical doctor can be held liable only where his conduct falls below that of the standard of a reasonably competent practitioner in the field. There is a heavy burden on the complainant to prove his case of negligence beyond reasonable doubt."
At this outset, the Commission observed that the Complainant had failed to submit any proof to make his case and mentioned,
"In the case before us, other than bare pleadings, the complainant has not brought anything on record that would suggest any negligence on the part of the opposite parties. It was incumbent on the part of the complainant to place material before us that would indicate the normal standard of treatment or the procedure of medical treatment and how the opposite party had failed to meet the requirements."
The Commission also referred to the Supreme Court Judgment in the case of Jacob Mathew v. State of Punjab and Another where the Apex Court had marked that "the onus to prove medical negligence lies largely on the claimant and that this onus can be discharged by leading cogent evidence. A mere averment in a complaint which is denied by the other side can, by no stretch of imagination, be said to be evidence by which the case of the complainant can be said to be proved. It is the obligation of the complainant to provide the facta probanda as well as the facta probantia."
Noting that the judgment of the Apex Court was applicable in this particular case, the District Forum clarified how even after given multiple opportunities, the Complainant failed to adduce any evidence to establish the allegations raised in the complaint.
With this, the Commission made it quite clear that Courts have to be circumspect when dealing with cases of medical negligence and there is a rather heavy burden of proof cast on the complainant to bring home his case.
Dismissing the complaint, the Commission noted,
"Except for bare pleadings, we did not find any material that even vaguely suggests any negligence on the part of the opposite parties. In view of the above discussions, we did not find any substance in the complaint."
To read the order, click on the link below.