Use of expired Lens during Cataract Surgery: Consumer forum dismisses medical negligence case against Opthalmologist
West Bengal: In a major relief to an eye specialist, the Rajarhat bench of West Bengal Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has recently dismissed a plea alleging medical negligence by the hospital and the doctor during cataract surgery. The petitioner alleged that the Intra Ocular Lens implanted during the surgery was past the expiry date.
The case concerns a patient who approached the eye specialist complaining cataract problem in her left eye since 2015. In December 2016, the patient, along with her husband, visited the doctor who after investigation, advised for a cataract operation and prescribed some medicines before the surgery. Following his advice, the patient was admitted to the eye hospital.
4 days later, the cataract in the left eye of the patient was operated upon by the doctor and Intra Ocular Lens was implanted. The patient paid a sum of Rs 14,700/- and got discharged on the same date. It has been alleged by the complainant that the Lens which was used and implanted in her left eye by the doctor was out of expiry and from the lens sticker it was revealed that the manufacturing and expiry dates of the lens were 2013/12 and 2016/11 respectively.
The petitioner alleged that despite informing the treating doctor and the hospital, no medical assistance or relief was provided which caused great mental pain and agony. It was claimed that when the Complainant accordingly visited the hospital and the doctor with the original bills, they admitted that the lens was out of expiry date and also confessed their negligence.
It was submitted that the petitioner requested for a further clinical investigation of her left eye and to suggest better medicine for recovery, but the doctor and the hospital refused her request and thereby the Complainant had to suffer monetary losses. Hence, finding no other alternative the Complainant approached before the forum by filing this complaint praying for a direction upon the OPs to refund the amount of Rs.14,700/- as incurred towards her medical treatment and surgery along with further medical expenses for Rs.50,000/- and Rs.1,00,000/- as compensation to her.
The counsel for the opposition denied the allegations and stated that the Complainant got admission at the hospital and paid the charges for her cataract surgery. The OPs have disputed and denied the Intra Ocular Lens sticker, according to them the photocopies can be manipulated and is not an authentic document. Such an IOL sticker was never supplied to the Complainant. Such stickers and IOL are available in the open market. The IOL has no expiry date and it works throughout the life of any patient, they submitted.
They further added, If the sterilization had expired, the Complainant would have had an immediate infection called 'Endophthalmitis' within 24 hours. The Complainant was advised to come again within a very short span, but she did neither turn up to the OPs for follow-ups nor to another doctor, which proves beyond doubt that the IOL was not expired as alleged by the Complainant. The Complainant has no problem in her eyes as in her own handwriting she had written that her operated eye was OK on the very next day of the operation, it was submitted.
The doctor and the hospital denied having demanded the original bills or admitting that the lens was out of expiry date.
After considering the submission of both the parties, the bench stated,
"In connection with such allegation we are to say that the Complainant did not take any step for bringing any Expert's opinion from the Department of Ophthalmology for coming to the conclusive conclusion as to whether the validity of the said Lens was at all expired or not. Until and unless any opinion is forthcoming we are not in a position to come to the conclusion that the questioned lens had lost its validity for implantation"
" in our view, such allegation has no basis at all until documentary evidence is forthcoming from the end of the Complainant in this context. There is no iota of evidence on the part of the Complainant that the OPs were informed about the expiry of the lens by the Complainant in writing. If actually, the lens was out of its validity, then what prompted the Complainant or her husband not to make any written correspondence with the OPs?"
The court also added, " It is alleged by the Complainant that due to implant of the expired lens her left eye got damage and she is still suffering from problem in the operated eye. In this respect, we are of the view that within the four corners of this record there is no document that due to the alleged problem she visited the treating surgeon after the cataract surgery."
The court further observed, " the Complainant has stated that the OPs realizing their negligence called her and demanded the original bills issued by the OP-2. Subsequently when she visited the OPs along with the original bills then the OPs have admitted that the lens was out of expiry date and confessed their guilt in presence of her husband. In this context no documentary evidence is adduced by the Complainant in support of her contention, so this allegation also does not stand."
The court finally ordered:
As the Complainant has failed to prove any medical negligence or deficiency in rendering medical service to her by adducing corroborative evidence, in our view the Complainant is not entitled to get any relief as sought for in the prayer portion of this complaint.