Mumbai: City hospital ordered to pay Rs 7.5 lakh to diamond broker for medical negligence
Murlidhar Chhabria was shifted to an intensive care unit (ICU) after the surgery, where his wife noticed that his left palm and fingers were burnt. The burn injuries were treated even after he was discharged from the hospital, and eventually, he was operated upon for the burns on November 21, 2005.Updated: Jul 13, 2020 20:05 IST
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has directed a reputed hospital in Mumbai to pay compensation of Rs7.5 lakh to a diamond broker (74) for gross medical negligence that led to the loss of two of his fingers in the left hand during a botched-up surgery over 15 years ago.
“A detailed review of the entire record reveals that it is a case of gross medical negligence, involving loss of body parts, business and mental agony to the complainant, who is a senior citizen, during the course of treatment given in the respondent hospital,” said a two-member NCDRC bench, comprising presiding member Prem Narain and member C Vishwanath, holding the hospital liable to compensate Murlidhar Chhabria, a resident of Peddar Road in south Mumbai.
On September 18, 2005, Chhabria was admitted to the hospital for a coronary artery bypass graft, and two days later he underwent the surgery.
On October 1, 2005, re-suturing was required to be done because blood was found to be oozing from his chest.
He was shifted to an intensive care unit (ICU) after the surgery, where his wife noticed that his left palm and fingers were burnt. The burn injuries were treated even after he was discharged from the hospital, and eventually, he was operated upon for the burns on November 21, 2005.
Later, he found that his middle and little fingers had been amputated due to gangrene.
In 2006, he had filed a complaint before the Maharashtra Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (MCDRC), alleging gross medical negligence on part of the hospital, which resulted in the burning of his left hand and the resultant amputation of two fingers.
He prayed for compensation of Rs 50 lakh claiming that being a diamond broker and expert in an assortment of diamonds, the absence of fingers was not only a loss of his body parts but also impaired his earning capacity.
The hospital denied the allegations and maintained that since no heaters were used in its operation theatres (OTs) or the ICUs, there was no question of the patient getting his hand burnt by accidentally touching one.
The hospital claimed that the patient was also having a history of long-standing diabetes, which finally led to Tropical Diabetic Hand Syndrome (TDHS), and the symptoms of heater burn and TDHS are similar.
It also filed an expert opinion to show that TDHS results in the burning of the hand that leads to gangrene.
On March 28, 2012, the state commission accepted the hospital’s argument and dismissed the complaint observing that the treating doctors had exercised due care and caution in operating and treating the complainant.
Then, Chhabria moved NCDRC for a redressal.
The national commission, however, refused to accept the hospital’s stand.
It said: “when there were no chances of any burn caused due to heaters in the OT/ICU or of any cautery burns during surgery, as alleged by the complainant, one does not understand as to why blisters on the hand were not taken seriously but only treated normally as burns over a long period of time.”
It noted all along the burn injury was mentioned in the hospital record as “burn injuries in the OT during bypass surgery”.
“All through it was being treated as a case of burns having sensation in the hand and not a case of TDHS,” said the bench.
“Never the case was treated as TDHS,” said NCDRC, adding that the theory was introduced two years after treating the patient, and ‘Wisdom’ and ‘Gyan’ about TDHS and burns appeared for the first time in the affidavit in reply to the consumer’s complaint.
“Record only shows burn injuries in OT during bypass surgery,” the NCDRC bench said.
“Theory of TDHS has been floated only as a cover-up to their medical negligence, resulting in permanent injury to the patient,” it added.
It stated that treating doctors ought to have consulted the diabetologist and dermatologist at the earliest and if proper diagnosis and treatment had started early, the complainant could, perhaps, have been saved from permanent injury and damage.
The bench said that amputation of fingers involves loss of bone, a very serious consequence for the complainant, but no effort had been made to properly diagnose the problem.
“This is certainly a case of gross medical negligence on the part of the respondent hospital and the complainant is to be compensated for the loss of body parts, trauma, agony, and source of livelihood,” it added.