New Delhi: Observing that the doctor did not attend to the patient immediately when she was in severe labour pains but the patient was left in the hands of assistants who were neither qualified nor trained, the apex consumer court bench recently upheld the District and State Consumer Commission’s order holding the doctor of guilty of negligence for the delay in performing the cesarean delivery.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has dismissed the revision petition of a UP-based doctor, who was directed to pay Rs 3 lakh to the complainant after being held negligent by a district forum.
Presiding Member S M Kantikar heard the appeal of a doctor of a Nursing home based in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh.
The case is that of a patient who was admitted to the doctor’s nursing home and her condition deteriorated during delivery. It has been alleged by the patient that the doctor did not respond and instead told her assistants not to disturb her.
The patient claimed that her condition continued to deteriorate, following which the doctor “eventually” came to the labour room, and thus because of delay and negligence on the part of the doctor and her assistants, the child born was dead and there was the injury to her uterus during the cesarian operation.
Thereafter, the Complainant’s husband filed an FIR under Sections 316, 326 of IPC against the OP. Further being aggrieved, the patient filed the Complaint before the District Forum, Lakhimpur.
Countering the allegations and denying any negligence, the doctor said she had performed a caesarian operation only after the patient’s written consent and there was no damage to the patient’s uterus. The operation was successful, but unfortunately, the child could not be saved.
The doctor submitted that no fees were charged due to a good relationship and trust between the complainant from the past and her elder brother-in–law who promised to make the payment later on, but he failed. The doctor further denied any involvement of her maid-servant or assistant during the delivery. She also denied that her ureter was damaged during the operation and as a result urine was leaking continuously.
After discharge from the nursing home, the patient did not come for follow-up and the complaint was filed with a “bad intention to defame the doctor and nursing home”, the doctor argued.
In its order, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Lakhimpur held the doctor negligent and directed her to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakh, along with Rs 15,000 as litigation cost.
Against the district consumer forum order, the doctor filed the first appeal before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Lucknow, which dismissed the petition, saying she had committed deficiency in service and there was no scope for any intervention.
The Order of the District Forum was affirmed by the state commission with the following observation:-
Aggrieved with the state commission order, the doctor then moved to the NCDRC, where her advocate argued that the patient had failed to produce any evidence of negligence and that the state commission did not rely upon the medical literature filed by the doctor about the risks of ureteral injury during obstetric and gynaecological operations.
The counsel further argued that an unfortunate incident or death did not necessarily amount to negligence and the award of compensation was excessive.
However, the counsel appearing on behalf of the patient argued that the doctor was negligent and performed the operation hastily and negligently, thus resulting in the loss of her child and causing damage to the urinary tract.
He further argued that the doctor’s negligence was the sole cause of the complainant’s suffering and that if the doctor had fulfilled her duties properly, the complainant would have been able to have a child and live a happy life without the need for costly medical treatment.
In conclusion, the top consumer court found the revision petition filed by the doctor devoid of merit and juked the plea.
“Considering the evidence on record and the entirety of the facts in my view, there was a failure of duty of care from the opposite party 1 (the doctor). She did not attend to the patient immediately when she was in severe labour pain…the patient was left in the hands of (her) assistants, who were neither qualified nor trained and the caesarian operation was performed hurriedly at delayed stage which was the cause of foetal death,” the honourable presiding member observed.
“ In the instant case, both the Fora have given concurrent findings on the facts and there is no error apparent to interfere in the reasoned orders under the revisional jurisdiction of this Commission under Section 21 of the Act, 1986.The revision petition, being misconceived and devoid of merit, is dismissed,” he added.