The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (#NCDRC), New Delhi has in a recent matter of Yashumati Devi & Anr. vs Christian Medical College, Vellore passed a #Judgment dated 11-08-2020 and held the Opposite Party-#Hospital liable for its #negligent conduct in causing inordinate #delay in treating a #patient that led to his #death.
In this case, one, Mr. Raj Ballav Ram (the Patient), aged about 58 years, has been suffering from on and off pain in his left arm on exertion and while walking or climbing staircase, etc since 2006. He later got admitted in the Out-patient Department at Christian Medical College, Vellore (the Hospital) on 10-06-2009. The Hospital examined and diagnosed him with #CoronaryArteryDisease. Further, the Patient was advised to undergo ‘Coronary Angiogram’ test and if required, angioplasty, for which the Complainants, i.e. the Patient’s wife and son (the Complainants) deposited Rs. 1,50,000/- in the Hospital. The following day, the treating doctor advised the Patient to undergo Coronary Arterial By-pass Graft #surgery (Surgery) instead of #angioplasty to avoid multiple stenting. But the Patient had to wait for 15 more days before the Surgery could be conducted. Meanwhile, the doctors had started administering the Patient with doses of #Heparin regularly. At the time of Heparin shots, the Complainant No. 2 noticed bleeding at the spot where the needle was inserted into the Patient’s body, but the doctors ignored him. After a couple of days, the Patient showed signs of sudden numbness in his left arm and trouble in walking and/or wearing slippers. Although the doctors anticipated that it could be a #stroke, they conducted a CT scan after a delay of more than 4 hours and caused further delay in giving any medical treatment to the Patient. After a couple of days, the Patient passed away. The Complainants then approached the NCDRC and filed a consumer complaint against the Hospital for their alleged #medicalnegligence and callousness that caused the death of the Patient.
The NCDRC made the following observations in this case:
1- As per the “but for” causation test, in some cases, a complainant has to prove that the injury would not have occurred “but for” the negligence of the defendant. Also, that the defendant’s negligent act was a necessary cause for his or her injuries.
2- In this case, the Patient had shown signs of stroke, after an hour of 3rd dose of Heparin being administered to him by the doctors. But the Hospital failed to take corrective steps to control the overdose of Heparin, which led to the stroke. As a result, it proved to be fatal for the Patient.
3- Thereafter, the Hospital doctors delayed for more than 4 hours in conducting a CT Scan and did not give immediate medical attention and treatment to the Patient. The Patient showed signs of mini-stroke around 8.30 AM on 17-06-2009, but the CT Scan was done only around 12.30 PM and thereafter, medicines for reducing the swelling in his brain were given around 5 PM.
4- If the Hospital doctors would have conducted a CT Scan immediately, it would have helped them to diagnose a possible stroke. However, the Hospital delayed the diagnosis and CT Scan for the petty reason that the Complainants had to produce the receipt of Rs. 1850/- for CT Scan. This negligent conduct caused brain haemorrhage to the Patient that caused his stroke and death.
5- The NCDRC herein held that, although a hospital has every right to insist on payment, but it is also their prime duty to take proper care of its patients. But the Hospital herein chose to comply with its rigid protocols over medical ethics and delayed the medical diagnosis and treatment of the aged and emergent Patient, which amounts to failure of duty of care.
6- Further, the NCDRC held that if the Hospital doctors would have complied with the accepted standard of care, the Patient would not have suffered brain haemorrhage that caused his stroke and death. Thus, the “#butfor” causation test would be applicable to the instant case.
Hence, the NCDRC held the Hospital liable for deficiency in services rendered to the Patient and awarded the Complainants #compensation of Rs. 25 Lakh with interest @ 8% per annum from the date of the death of the Patient till the date of its realization.
Senior Legal Associate
The Indian Lawyer