A Chennai-based doctor and his nursing home have been directed by apex consumer commission to pay Rs. five lakh to the father of a young woman who died after she was given treatment for cancer which she did not have.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) held Dr Kurien Joseph and his nursing home guilty of medical negligence for not performing the requisite tests or consulting an oncologist to confirm the woman had cancer before subjecting her to several rounds of chemotherapy.
"In the instant case, the appellants did not conduct the required tests nor did they consult an Oncologist or get biopsy done, which is common procedure undertaken in cases of suspected cancer.... Taking into account these facts, we agree with the order of State Commission and uphold the same. First appeal is, therefore, dismissed," a bench presided by Justice Ashok Bhan said.
The order came on the doctor's appeal against the state commission's order holding him guilty of medical negligence and directing him to pay Rs. five lakh as compensation, saying it had not adequately appreciated the evidence on record which indicated the patient had cancer.
The state commission's order had come on the plea of the patient's father Govindrajan, resident of village Perambakkam in district Thiruvallur of Tamil Nadu, who had alleged that his daughter, G Ushanandhini, was wrongly treated for cancer by Dr Kurien when she was admitted in his nursing home and as a result of the treatment she had died.
The doctor in his plea before the NCDRC had said that the patient was admitted in his nursing home with pregnancy related problems and was found having ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity.
While her pregnancy was terminated, her preliminary medical reports were suggestive of cancer and, therefore, she was given chemotherapy for the same, the doctor had said.
The doctor had also contended there was inherent risk in conducting the biopsy of the cysts and abnormal enlargement in her abdomen and hence the same was not done to confirm the diagnosis of cancer.
The commission, however, rejected the contention saying though such a procedure may have had an inherent risk, that was not an adequate enough reason not to conduct the same.
The NCDRC also pointed out that tests conducted just before the patient's death in November 1992 showed she was not suffering from cancer.