Sending blood samples to another laboratory for examination without the consent of the patient amounts to suppression of fact and hence deficiency of services by the pathology lab, ruled the Consumer Forum Suburban district, Bandra, recently.
On August 6, 2007, MN Nambidi was asked to get some tests - including the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) check - done from Adarsh Poly-Clinic Laboratory at Goregaon. While Nambidi was charged Rs16,826 for the tests, his blood samples were sent to Metropolis Clinical Laboratories, Worli. Without conducting the tests, the samples were sent to another laboratory, Nambidi alleged in his complaint.
The reports, which were received a day later, stated that Nambidi was suffering from HCV. However, his family doctor found the reports to be erroneous and referred him to Lilavati Hospital and Bombay Hospital for further tests. The reports stated that he was not suffering from HCV.
Nambidi then demanded an answer from Adarsh Laboratory for suppression of fact and provision of incorrect report. When he did not receive a satisfactory reply, he filed a consumer complaint against Dr MR Phadke from Adarsh Poly-Clinic Laboratory and Dr Vipul Patel, director, Metropolis Clinical Laboratories.
Refuting the allegations, the laboratories claimed that the complaint was filed to extort money. Seeking the dismissal of the complaint, they alleged that the complainant was informed that the samples were sent to another lab.
The forum, while hearing the complaint filed by the patient, held the two laboratories guilty of deficiency of services.
About the incorrect reports, the labs alleged that HCV is only a screening test and confirmation is always needed to rule out false positives. The forum, however, observed that it was the duty of a diligent pathologist to mention in the report that HCV is a screening test and confirmation is still needed. The forum held that the labs also suppressed the fact that the samples were sent to another lab for testing.
The forum held that suppression of fact amounts to deficiency of services. It asked the two laboratories to pay Rs11,695, which the complainant had incurred for the tests from other hospitals, with an interest rate of 9%. The labs have been asked to pay Rs10,000 towards mental harassment and Rs5,000 towards cost of complaint.