The apex court rejected a consumer complaint involving alleged medical negligence on the part of a city-based surgeon Dr. VN Shrikhande, who had forgotten several gauze pieces in the stomach of a patient while performing surgery.
A division bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly struck down the complaint only because the complainant, Anita Fernandes had not approached the surgeon despite suffering for nine years after the surgery.
“It was reasonably expected of her to contact the appellant (Dr Shrikhande) and apprise him about her pain and agony and seek his advice,” said the bench adding, “If the respondent had got in touch with the appellant, he would have definitely
suggested measures for relieving her from the pain and relentless.”
The bench further noted that any person of ordinary prudence suffering from pain and discomfort after surgery would have consulted the surgeon concerned or any other competent doctor and sought advice.
But, the judges noted, the complainant did nothing except take some painkillers.
Fernandes, who then worked as a staff nurse at a government hospital in Goa, had neither contacted Dr Shrikhande nor consulted a local doctor in her home state despite suffering for nine years after the surgery.
Dr Shrikhande, who has his own hospital at Dadar, had performed an open cholecystectomy on the nurse in November 1993 for removing stones in her gall bladder.
However, even after the surgery she continued having severe pain in stomach.
Finally, she approached another surgeon at Lilavati Hospital, where she was operated again in October 2002 and a mass was removed from her stomach.
The histopathology report revealed several small gauze pieces were embedded within the mass.
Fernandes moved the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission seeking compensation and the expenses incurred by her on second surgery.
The matter eventually reached the apex court.