COMPENSATION FOR MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE IN RECENT TIMES

Due to medical negligence, the wife of the patient who died was awarded with compensation for medical negligence by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). There was a delay in the conduction of CT scan because the patient due to unpaid due of Rs 1850/-.  The patient, a man aged about 58 years, is stated to have had a history of pain in his left arm after engaging in strenuous activity. He was also a patient of diabetes and hypertension.

In 2009, the patient for the first time had visited the hospital’s outpatient patient department complaining about a pain in his left arm on exertion. Diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease, he was admitted to the Hospital and advised an Angioplasty. On further examination, the patient was recommended a Coronary Arterial By-pass Graft (CABG) surgery to avoid multiple stenting. At this time, the patient was informed that the operation could not take place for two weeks because of the large number of patients. He also complained about bleeding and disorientation.

During this time the patient was given doses of Heparin without explaining the need or patient’s consent. The cause of bleeding was left unexamined even after repeated remainders. It was informed that due to Heparin the patient suffered from a stroke and CT scan was required immediately. Citing unpaid dues, the CT scan sought was denied for over 3 hours. These ‘dues’ were demanded despite the complainants’ prior deposit of Rs 1,50,000.

The hospitals argued that a consent was not needed for administering the drugs and the patient himself opted for CABG over Angioplasty. Also, it was seen that the blood thinner given to the patient prior to the operation was the cause of internal bleeding.

It was administered by the Court that the doses of Heparin was not improper and the was established in the medical practice.  But it was held that the hospital negligent for the inordinate delay in treatment after the patient suffered a stroke. Also, the doses of Heparin was not stopped after the stroke. The hospitals had all the rights to demand for the payment but also had the responsibility to treat the patient on urgent basis.

Precedent Pravat Kumar Mukherjee vs. Ruby General Hospital and Ors, where it was held that “Obvious answer is the recovery of the fee can wait – but not the death nor the treatment for trying to save the life”.

The Commission ultimately accepted the complainant’s arguments applying the “but for” test applied to medical negligence cases. Seeing that ‘but-for’ the hospitals negligence the patient would have survived, the Court accepted the plea of the petitioners. Hence, deficiency and medical negligence was conclusively demonstrated, the Commission ruled.

Finally, an amount of R 25 lakhs with an interest of 8% P.A counted from the date of death of the patient to its realization was awarded to the patient’s wife for the doctor’s negligence.

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