The Maharashtra State Consumer Commission has held a reputed Mumbai hospital and a doctor attached to it guilty of medical negligence in the treatment of a Dadar resident during her knee-replacement surgery in March 1996.
The state commission has directed PD Hinduja National Hospital and Research Center and Dr Saanjay Agarwala to pay Veera Kotwal Rs 18.08 lakh, which she had to spend in the US to cure the defects caused by the surgery, and Rs 50,000 towards litigation cost.
According to the complaint, on March 29, 1996, Kotwal underwent knee-replacement surgery, as she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. It was alleged in the complaint that though she continuously suffered joint pain followed by puss formation because of bacterial infection in the operation theatre, the surgeon who operated upon her did not bother to check her. She further alleged that the doctors attending her were negligent in performing the knee joint surgery as there was uneven gap in the knee joint. The pain in the operated area never subsided despite taking pain killers and antibiotics.
The hospital contested the complaint claiming it operates on non-profit basis and its main object is to render effective medical care to all classes of the people. It denied that the bacterial infection developed inside its operation theatre contending that it takes utmost care and had installed the best equipment to maintain cleanliness of air, temperature and humidity inside the theatres.
Dr Agarwala maintained that the operation was uneventful and successful and the patient was monitored post-operatively, and no abnormity was noticed whatsoever. Slight oozing was noticed for the first time on April 10, 1996 and every necessary examination was done and necessary medication was provided to the complainant and the wound showed improvement, he added.
After perusing the voluminous record of the case, the state commission recorded that that the opponents followed the standard protocol of treatment for treating the wound and the bacterial infection. It also did not find any substance in the allegation that the bacterial infection was sourced from the operation theatre.
The state commission, however, did not find any record showing what steps were taken by the doctors to address ‘loosening of prosthetic components’, as recorded by Dr Agarwala, while treating the wound in post-operative period.
It noted that two-stage revision surgery was necessitated owing to loosening of tibial prosthetic components and for want of corrective measures the complainant was left in painful post-operative conditions.
“Failure of the opponents (the hospital and the doctor) to attend the clinically diagnosed problem certainly attributes to the medical negligence leading to deficiency in service,” the state commission observed, adding, “Though the opponents possess skill and knowledge of their subject, they failed to take corrective steps.”