On April 17, 2004 the state commission of Delhi held Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute (RGCI) in northeast Delhi guilty of “medical negligence”.
The hospital was asked to pay a sum of Rs. 5 lakh to the husband of a patient, who died of cancer.
Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Zile Singh Dahiya had approached the consumer court nine years ago alleging lapses in his wife treatment, leading to her death.
The Bench headed by Justice J.D. Kapoor held the hospital and the treating doctors negligent in handling the case saying, “The hospital did not provide the patient with the required treatment to cure the cancer, even when the Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) test showed positive for malignancy and a bone scan showed metastasis (spread of the disease to other parts of the body).”
Zile Singh’s wife Krishna Kumari suffered from cervical cancer and was treated with radiation therapy at a local hospital in Rohtak in September 1999.
On developing complications, she was referred for further treatment to Dr K.K. Pandey in Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute (RGCI) who advised an immediate hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) operation.
Krishna was admitted to RGCI in October 1999 for surgery. Dr Pandey conducted the surgery on October 22 and the patient was discharged after the operation on October 28.
However, in August 2000, she developed symptoms indicating that her cancer was resurfacing.
The ultrasound and CT scan reports confirmed metastasis — the spread of cancer. Zila Singh, in his complaint to the consumer commission, alleged Dr Pandey lent no credence to the test results and said she was fine.
When Dahiya sought advice from Apollo Hospital in Sarita Vihar, test results confirmed the disease was spreading.
The doctors said the patient had wasted three months, allowing the cancer to spread beyond the treatment stage.
Subsequent treatments at Apollo failed to save Krishna’s life. She died in February 6, 2001.
The judgment of the Commission, which held the hospital guilty, said: “After the radiotherapy treatment, the patient was totally cured. But the hospital, without taking any investigation of cancer except a CT scan, conducted another operation, which was not at all required.”
“The hospital did not even carry out the said operation properly as required which caused the metastasis later.”
Dissatisfied with the state commission's decision, the hospital has now appealed to the national commission. “We have appealed to the higher court. We have submitted all written statements and other proofs to back our claims. Let's see what the court decides," said Mansi Bajaj, advocate for RGCI.
The case is scheduled for its final hearing on August 24.