National Consumer Commission Dismisses Rs.26,50,000 compensation case against Doctor in Cuttack


The National Consumer Fora while dismissing the consumer complaint filed for compensation of Rs.26,50,000/- ( Bibiekanad Panigrahi V/s. Prime Hospitals, Cuttack, decided on 03/08/2015 ) observed at the threshold that :
“The doctor/patient relationship is at a crossroads. Some patients want the doctor calling all the shots, deciding the best treatment path to follow. Patients miss the trust and warmth found in the personal bond with a caring, competent physician. Boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship is an important concept to help health professionals navigate the complex and sometimes difficult experience between patient and doctor where intimacy and power must be balanced in the direction of benefiting patients.”

The deceased patient was operated for acute appendicitis, but unfortunately, the surgical wound showed gapping with pus discharge and even after thorough investigation, the treating doctors were unable to find out the cause for infection. Then to make the things more worse, the patient developed fecal fistula and septicemia. The patient was a diabetic and the sugar was controlled through insulin. Hence the patient was shifted to another Hospital, where the another Doctor opined that the patient was a victim of mistake, which developed post operational multiple complications and finally the patient died.

The National Commission on the basis of medical Records produced in the case as well as medical Literature, came to the conclusion that there was no Medical Negligence on part of treating Doctors in appendicectomy surgery or during treatment of fecal fistula . It observed that in this case, there appears to be a strained relationship between the Doctor-Patient. The deceased and OP doctor were classmates and close friends. The OP took utmost care and operated upon him as an emergency. The fecal fistula developed due to patient’s health condition. The patient was highly diabetic with high blood urea and creatinine levels. Further, OP took proper care of the fistula by providing regular dressing, antibiotics were given. The death occurred due to multiple factors. The Commission observed that the patient had 4 days acute appendicitis, he had 102 F. Temperature ,the patient had high blood urea and creatinine. Plus he was diabetic taking insulin, which were causing hindrances in wound healing.The Commission after going through the Medical literature observed that development of fecal fistula was a sequelae of appendicular abscess or gangrenous appendicitis. The commission also observed that the postoperative fecal fistula and the infection caused by higher antibiotics was managed by the doctors.

Commission Dismisses Rs.26,50,000 compensation case against Doctor

The Commission relied on the celebrated judgment of Apex court in the case of Jacob Mathews Case (2005) 6 SCC 1, wherein it is observed as;
“A medical practitioner faced with an emergency ordinarily tries his best to redeem the patient out of his suffering. He does not gain anything by acting with negligence or by omitting to do an act. Obviously, therefore, it will be for the complainant to clearly make out a case of negligence before a medical practitioner is charged with or proceeded against criminally. A surgeon with shaky hands under fear of legal action cannot perform a successful operation and a quivering physician cannot administer the end-dose of medicine to his patient.”

It also relied upon the observations of the Lord Denning, In Roe and Woolley Vs The Ministry of Health, that, “We would be doing a disservice to the community at large if we were to impose liability on hospitals and doctors for everything that happens to go wrong.”

This case demonstrates a bitter truth that professionals (including Lawyers) at times are doing a thankless job !! It proves the old saying many a times, “Success has many fathers, but the Failure is an Orphan”

We thank Adv. Rohit Erande, Pune for their insightful article

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