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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
 
  May 2016
 
  April 2016
 
 
 
 
CASE STUDY - By Anoop K. Kaushal
All Infections are not caused by Negligence
Routh Raheswari
v.
Dr. Uppalapati Venugopala Rao

Revision Petition No. 2270 of 2006 decided by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission vide order dated 23-9-2010.

The Petitioner stated that she had been suffering from stomach pain for the past one year and she used to go to the Respondent's Nursing Home for treatment and in March 2003, she was advised that she required a hysterectomy operation to cure the pain. After charging Rs. 3000 she was admitted to the Respondent's Nursing Home where without proper diagnosis, clinical examination and procedure she underwent surgery on 21-3-2003, which was a major operation. On 25-3-2003 she developed vaginal and lung infection. When her condition deteriorated, a day later she was shifted to the Nagarjuna Hospital, which being a multi-specialty hospital, had better medical facilities. It was also alleged that the Respondent assured that he would bear all the expenses of her treatment as the present complication arose due to his fault, but did not come forward for her treatment, for which the Petitioner was charged Rs. 30,000. Once the Petitioner's condition stabilized she was advised to get re-admitted in the Res pondent's Nursing Home for recuperation, but the Respondent refused to re-admit her and therefore, she took admission in another hospital. The Petitioner further stated that because of medical negligence on the part of the Respondent, she has been suffering both financially and physically and she still continues to have serious physical disabilities. The Respondent denied the above allegations and stated that it was only after proper diagnosis and clinical investigation including blood and urine test that the hysterectomy was performed. The operation theatre was properly equipped and the operation was conducted by qualified doctors including an anesthesist. Despite best possible medical care the Petitioner did develop vaginal and lung infection and the Respondent personally took her and admitted her to Nagarjuna Multi-specialty Hospital for treatment. Respondent also got her 30% concession on the charges from that Hospital. The Petitioner never came back to the Respondent after her discharge from the Multi-specialty hospital. The President and one Member of the District Forum held that there is deficiency in service on the part of the Respondent and directed the Respondent to pay Rs.1 lakh including medical expenses with interest @ 9% from the date of complaint till realization together with cost of Rs.1000. The State Commission after considering the evidence on record, notably the evidence of Dr. Madhusudhana Rao who was the medical expert in the multi-specialty Nagarjuna Hospital concluded that there was no evidence produced to suggest medical negligence on the part of the Respondent.

It was observed that the patient was found to have round worm infestation and it is possible that this was the cause of her lung infection. The Medical Consultant stated that post operatively 5% to 10% of patients do develop some complications even in the best hospitals in the world and out of these nearly half of them are due to infections and that infections can occur even without the fault or negligence on the part of the doctor. He has further stated in his affidavit that he gave the Petitioner concession on fees on the request of the Respondent and that the Respondent had accompanied the Petitioner to the hospital and monitored all her vital functions through oxygen mask, pulse-oximeter en-route. Even during her stay in the hospital the Respondent had been verifying the condition and well being of the Petitioner over phone.

Held: It is clear from the evidence produced before the District Forum that there was no deficiency in the surgery conducted in the Respondent's Nursing Home. It was done by qualified doctors and this has been confirmed by the Medical Consultant Dr. Madhusudhana Rao of the Nagarjuna Multi-specialty Hospital, where the patient was referred when her condition deteriorated. The Medical Consultant in his affidavit has opined that neither the vaginal or lung infection was the result of hysterectomy; and the latter infection was perhaps caused because the Petitioner had round worm infestation. He has further stated in his affidavit that as per the case history of the Petitioner seen by him, all precautions were taken before the Surgery by the Respondent including necessary anesthesia, blood and urine check-up. The Petitioner did not require any re-surgery and she was cured in a matter of few days by conservative treatment i.e. through medicines. The Medical Consultant has also opined that post operative even in the best hospitals, a patient can get infection. In fact 5-10% patients can develop complications and this does not necessarily imply any fault or negligence on the part of the doctor. In the instant case, there is thus independent evidence by a medical expert to corroborate the Respondent's contention that there was no lack of skill, sincerity or diligence on his part in dealing with the Petitioner. A doctor can be held guilty of medical negligence only if he fails to attend to a patient promptly and professionally and if the patient is treated by doctors who do not have the required skill, knowledge and expertise. This was clearly not so in the instant case and the Petitioner had also not produced any credible evidence to prove the allegations of medical negligence on the part of the Respondent.

The majority order of the District Forum is set aside and the order of the State Commission is upheld with no order as to cost.

Anoop K. Kaushal, Advocate - kaushal@justice.com
 
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