The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has held that every death of a patient cannot, on the face of it, be considered as death due to medical negligence, unless there is material on record to suggest that effect.

A Single Bench of Presiding Member S.M. Kantikar observed, “… every death of a patient cannot, on the face of it, be considered as death due to medical negligence, unless there is material on record to suggest to that effect. In the Jacob Mathew v. State of Punjab case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court laid down the ‘test’ for establishing medical negligence that ‘[It] is clear that in every case where the treatment is not successful or the patient dies during surgery, it cannot be automatically assumed that the medical professional was negligent’.”

The Bench said that the complainant failed to bring on record the appropriate medical evidence to prove medical negligence and that the conclusion reached by the State Commission appears to be assumptive without the scientific analysis and lack of supportive medical evidence.

Advocates Ajatshatru Mina and Vizzy Agarwal appeared on behalf of the appellants i.e., the hospitals while Advocate Avnish Dave appeared on behalf of the respondent i.e., the complainant.

In this case, the Commission was hearing the appeals preferred by two hospitals against the order passed by the State Commission directing them to pay compensation to the wife of the deceased patient. The deceased patient was hospitalised in the general ward of the hospital for complaints of severe chest pain and excessive perspiration as a result of which an ECG and Sonography test were performed.

The patient was administered antibiotics and anti-allergic medicines under a presumption of lung infection and in the evening, he was sent to another hospital for a Doppler ECHO study as that facility was not available in the former hospital. However, the condition of the patient deteriorated because of delayed reports from the latter hospital and thereafter Angioplasty was performed but he died.

The NCDRC after hearing the contentions of the counsel asserted, “The State Commission held against the Pink City Hospital (OP-1) that the patient was treated for lung infection, but not for heart problem. Due to the tablet 'Lasix' with 'Asprin' there was increased urine flow and blood thinning to the patient. It is pertinent to note that the treating doctor at OP-1 treated the patient as per the standards. It was not the tablet of Lasix but injection of Lasix 20mg was given and Tab. Aspirin was given. In my view, it was the correct line of treatment for LVF to prevent MI. Also, the other medicines were administered for reducing risk of strokes and heart attack etc. The patient was given Deriphyllin injection for wheezing and chronic bronchitis, the inj. Enoxion as anticoagulant helps to prevent acute coronary syndrome (LVF/heart attack), also Dyloop Plus to treat Chronic cardiac failure (LEVF). Sorbitrate is commonly used as coronary dilator for heart failure, oesophageal spasms, and chest pain (angina).”

The Commission said that it was not negligence from the hospital, thus the findings of the State Commission against the hospital were erroneous, and the same is set aside.

“… the finding of State Commission is totally erroneous that Angiography and/or Angioplasty were performed through leg (Femoral Artery Route) and the patient's foot developed loss of sensation. It was just presumption of State Commission. I do not find any evidence either to the effect that patient had lost sensation in his foot and/or developed gangrene or would have been required to be amputated if he survived. It was hypothetical and presumptive finding of the State Commission”, it further said.

The Commission, therefore, noted that there were no lapses during the treatment of the deceased and that the compensation of Rs. 44 lahks awarded by the State Commission appears to be sympathetic consideration.

Accordingly, the NCDRC allowed the appeals and set aside the order of the State Commission.

Cause Title- Pink City Heart & General Hospital v. Banarsi Devi & 2 Ors.

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