Laparotomy not done despite hemoperitoneum: Hospital, doctor directed to pay Rs 15 lakh compensation
Ludhiana: Upholding the State Commission's decision that in spite of hemoperitoneum having been confirmed, the hospital and the treating doctor made no attempt to undertake laparotomy even till the patient was discharged, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has held the facility and the medical practitioner guilty of negligence that resulted in patient's death. The commission directed them to pay a compensation of Rs 15 lakh.
The case concerns a patient who met a road accident on April 17, 2009. He was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Jagraon, and further advised to be taken to a well-equipped hospital for further treatment.
Thereafter, he was taken to the hospital that night at 9 pm. After being examined by the doctors the patient was discharged from the hospital at the responsibility of the family. He was then shifted to the CMC Hospital but ultimately succumbed at 1:45 am.
As per the post-mortem report, his death was caused due to hemorrhagic shock resulting from multiple injuries in a roadside accident.
Alleging negligence in the treatment of the deceased, the family approached the concerned State Commission by way of a Consumer Complaint filed on December 9, 2019. In the consumer complaint, the hospital and the doctors were also impleaded as parties besides impleading the insurance companies and insurance consultants.
Responding to the complaint, the hospital authorities and doctors have pleaded that there was no negligence on their part. They wanted to do a proper treatment and had planned a laparotomy for the treatment of haemoperitoneum, but the family members of the deceased refused the consent required for the aforesaid procedure and they took discharge at their own responsibility when the patient was in a critical condition and was not in a position to travel up to CMC Hospital.
However, the State Commission ruled in favour of the complainants after it found negligence on the part of the doctor and the hospital primarily on the ground that no treatment to the deceased was given for haemoperitoneum and pneumothorax. Consequently, the forum had directed them to pay compensation.
Aggrieved by the order, the doctor moved the NCDRC stating that they had planned laparotomy for the treatment of haemoperitoneum but the laparotomy could not be done due to the family's refusal to the consent sought for performing the said procedure.
On the other hand, the complainants argued that;
"No consent for performing laparotomy was sought from them and in fact, no worthwhile treatment was given to the deceased and that was the reason they had to shift him to CMC Hospital even at a time when the deceased was in a critical condition."
Examining the case the court observed that there was absolutely no documentary evidence of the hospital and the doctors have sought consent to perform laparotomy on the deceased for the purpose of treatment of haemoperitoneum. The court noted, had such consent been sought and refused, this would certainly have been noted in the record of the treatment maintained in the hospital.
Delivering the judgment, VK Jain, presiding member of the National Commission, held,
"I have no hesitation in holding the finding of the state commission that despite hemoperitoneum having been confirmed, no attempt was made by the hospital and the treating doctor to undertake laparotomy even till the patient was discharged at about 11.30 pm. There was a time lag of about one hour between confirmation of hemoperitoneum through ultrasound report and the discharge of the patient from the hospital on the responsibility of his family members. Every minute is important in the case of such a critically injured person. Therefore, the appellants were clearly negligent in the treatment of the deceased by not undertaking lapartotomy even till the time he was discharged at about 11.30 pm."
Subsequently, the Commission directed the hospital to pay compensation of Rs10 lakh to the aggrieved family and also directed the doctor to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation. The commission made it clear that since the doctor was having an insurance policy from the United India Insurance Company, the amount of Rs 5 lakh would be paid by the Insurance Company.
The commission also added that the interest accrued on the 50 per cent amount deposited by the appellant at the time of filing the present appeal would also be paid to the aggrieved family.
To access the official judgment, click on the link below-