New Delhi: Setting aside trial court’s order, the Delhi High Court has granted relief to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital and its doctors from the allegation of conducting unsuccessful sterilization surgery on a woman, leading to her conception again.
The concerned case goes back to 2001 when a patient, mother of 6, approached the hospital for tubectomy. After the checkup, the surgery was performed on 15.05.2001 under the care of Dr Deepa.
However, a few months later, the patient suspected pregnancy and then went for a health check at a Physical Health Centre on 21/10/2002, came to know that her tubectomy operation failed and she was indeed pregnant to have her 7th child.
Disappointed, the patient then moved the trial court claiming that the hospital did not provide reasonable medical care to her, resulting in defect and deficiency in the sterilization surgery. She alleged that she was not informed about the success rate of this operation as the hospital did not enlighten her with the same. She said that she followed all the precautions and took all the medicines for two months as advised.
However, the hospital authorities denied any negligence while performing the operation. They stated that patient and her relation Suman, who signed the consent form, were told about the failure chances of the operation and they were advised that in case of failure, the patient could come again for a free abortion, but she failed to do so and did not visit the hospital after getting pregnant.
The patient had reported only twice for follow up and that too within 15 days of sterilization which was against the advice given to her at the time of discharge. She was directed to report after four weeks and in case of missed period any time, she was to report immediately to manage the unwanted pregnancy.
The hospital also added that her submission that she continued the medicines for two months of sterilization is also contrary to the written instruction to her at the time of discharge. It is not clear as to what medicine she took for two months. “But she failed to adhere to the instructions having a clear indication that she was interested to continue her pregnancy,” the hospital contended.
Hearing both the sides, the bench at the trial court ruled in favour of the patient stating,
“It is admitted position that the tubectomy operation was performed on 15.5.2001 whereas the consent form appear to have been got signed on 14.5.01.
I have no reasons to disbelieve the plaintiff that she was not informed of the chances of failure of sterilization operation.
I also do not have any reason to disbelieve the reply of the plaintiff being Pw.1 to the questions put by Ld. counsel for the defendants during the cross examination, which go to show that when she visited the defendant no. 2 hospital, she was ill treated by the doctor and the hospital staff and was not properly attended.
Had she been attended properly by the hospital staff of the defendant no. 2, she could get unwanted pregnancy terminated which resulted into birth of the child which took place on 4.4.03.”
In its conclusion, the trial court held the hospital guilty of negligence.
Responding to the judgement, the hospital moved the Delhi High Court challenging the trial court’s order. After thorough perusal of the arguments from both sides, the apex court observed,
“Since medically there is never a 100% chance of success in sterilization operations, the mere fact that the operation was not successful, that by itself cannot be a reason to hold the appellant/defendant and its doctors guilty of negligence.”
“The appellant is asking for damages and yet she was herself negligent enough.” Noting that the trial court has also erred that the operation of the patient took place on 15.5.2001 and the hospital only claimed to have found out about her pregnancy on 23.10.2002, the court added.
“Once a person becomes pregnant then the menstrual cycle stops and this is known within one month or at best within two months from the conception month… the respondent/plaintiff could well have done abortion on time but she did not do so”
Later, Justice Valmiki J. Mehta asserted upon the issue of consent form signatures on behalf of which the trial court substantially made the judgement,
“Firstly, signing of such forms is always and invariably got done by any private or public Hospital before a tubectomy/sterilization operation.
Secondly, the documents Ex. PW-1/D-1 and Ex. PW-1/D-2 contain the thumb impressions of the respondent/plaintiff and whereas a signature can be forged but thumb impressions can never be forged.
Thirdly, admittedly, the name of the sister-in-law/Bhabhi of the respondent/plaintiff is Ms. Suman and how would the appellant/defendant have known the name of the sister-in-law/Bhabhi of the respondent/plaintiff as Ms. Suman and who has signed as her full name Suman on the two forms.”
Ultimately, the court allowed the appeal made by the hospital and concluded,
“Impugned Judgment of the Trial Court dated 16.8.2005 is set aside and the suit of the respondent/plaintiff will stand dismissed”
Attached is the judgement below: