Not taking due and adequate care of patients post surgery amounts to medical negligence on part of the head of the hospital, the Maharashtra State Consumer Redressal Commission ruled recently.
The commission upheld an order of the Kolhapur district consumer forum, directing local medical practitioner Dr Ishwarappa Mane and anesthetist Dr Swati Shanbag to pay Rs1 0 lakh as compensation for negligence, which resulted in the untimely death of a teacher, Sunita Savekar, within two hours of a family planning operation.
“In these two hours, there was nobody responsible in the hospital to take post-operation care,” the consumer commission noted in its orders, adding: “She was left at the mercy of the compounder and hospital staff.”
After the operation, when a patient is shifted out of the operation theatre, it is the duty to of the doctors to look after the patient and give them due care, the commission noted. “Unfortunately, in this case, care was not taken by hospital in-charge Dr IS Mane and Dr Shanbag, the anesthetist associated with the operation.
The commission also noted that Dr Mane had not bothered to wait and see if the patient was alright, after she was removed from the operation theatre. The commission therefore concluded that “there was utter negligence on part of the appellant (Dr Mane), for not taking due and proper care of the patient, as she lost her life only because of the appellant’s recklessness in handling the case.”
The operation in question was performed at Dr. Mane’s hospital on January 4, 2003. Soon after that, the patient’s pulse rate and blood pressure started going down. During this period both Dr. Mane and Dr. Shanbag were contacted by hospital staff several times, but by the time they reached the hospital the victim had died.
In 2004, the husband and two children of the victim had moved the Kolhapur district consumer forum. Acting on their complaint, the district forum had, in November 2009, held both the doctors guilty of medical negligence and directed them to pay aggregate sum of Rs. 10 lakh to the victim’s family.
Dr. Mane, who was ordered to pay a major part of the compensation –Rs 8 lakh — carried the matter to the state redressal commission, contending that a state-appointed expert committee had exonerated them of the charge of medical negligence.
The state commission, however, ignored the committee report saying the committee is formed by the state whenever patients undergoing family planning operation die, and the committee was formed merely to decide whether the ex-gracia amount is to be paid to the family members of the deceased.