“Not all anomalies can be detected by ultrasound study.”
A case claiming Rs.17 lakhs compensation was dismissed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, that was seen alleging failure on part of Doctors to diagnose fetal anomalies
Case Details :
S. SARAVANAN V/s. M/S. RASI CLINIC & 3 ORS, TAMILNADU. Judgment Dated : 20 Mar 2017
Facts in Short :
1. The complainant along with his wife approached the Respondent on 20.9.2007and the Doctor confirmed the 2nd pregnancy. It was contended by the Couple that due to extraction of 4 teeth 2 days back, the wife consumed heavy doses of pain killer medicine and requested to advise for termination of pregnancy if the fetus would face any problem due to these medicine !. But this possibility was ruled out by the Doctors.
2. Then the patient was referred for regular scanning with the Respondent No.2 and all he 3 ultrasound scans were normal and heart activity was recorded.
3.On 16.6.2008 a female baby was born under C-Section. But as the baby had breathing problems, she was referred to another Hospital. The baby was diagnosed as as 15 days old female neonate with downs phenotype and Tetralogy of Fallot with severely hypoplastic MPA & PA confluence
4. Thus a case of Medical Negligence was filed against all the Doctors for Rs.17 lakhs alleging that the Doctors did not give the correct advice at the first instance about the adverse effects of the pain killer medicines and that the Doctors failed to diagnose fetal anomalies. Both the lower forums dismissed the Complaint.
5. The Indian Medical Council (MCI) was impleaded as the party, but since no relief was claimed against it, its name was deleted.
1. The Doctors refuted all the allegations made against it.. It was contended that the lady did not come for the follow-up in time. While the Ultrasound on the 12-13 week recommended a repeat ultrasound at 18-20 week, but the patient did not come for the same.
The complainant in response to this then told the court that the while the report stated repeat ultrasound at 18-20 weeks, the gynecologist herself did not advice the same to the patient and hence there was negligence
1. The Commission observed from the Evidence that the Complainant never uttered a single word in the Complaint that the Doctor was deficient in not advising scan/ultrasound between 18-20 weeks of pregnancy and this was the total new case made up..
2.. Relieving the Doctors from the charges negligence it was observed that there is no proof much less of an expert witness that complications developed due to the effect of medicines taken for dental treatment and secondly, there was no occasion to advise any higher level scan as all the scans were found normal as per the report of the sonography expert and the lady failed to come for the second ultrasound/scan during the duration of 18-20 weeks of pregnancy.
3. The Commission pointed out the Footnote at the end of the report which started as “Not all anomalies can be detected by ultrasound study…” More over the court observed that since here was no occasion for the Gynecologist/clinic to advice any higher level scan/ultrasound. Thus, there has been no negligence on the part of gynecologist/clinic because first of all, there is no proof that complications developed due to the effect of medicines taken for dental treatment and secondly, there was no occasion to advice any higher level scan as all the scans were found normal as per the report of the sonography expert, OP-2.
This is a very important judgment for both, Gynecologist and Sonologist. Anomaly scan is very important aspect in pregnancy and no Doctor would purposely give wrong report.
But the question remains, that if the anomaly would have been detected,the patient would have exercised her right of MTP. But what if it would have been detected after 20 Weeks ? Only ray of hope is Supreme Court. But recently we have seen the contradictory judgments of Apex Court on this topic.. One which allowed the MTP even after 20 weeks and the recent one disallowed in the case of down syndrome ! This judgment again emphasises the need to amend the MTP Act.
Thanks and Regards
Adv. Rohit Erande
You can read the full judgement by clicking on the following link