Consumers’ body directs hospital to pay ₹7.5L to diamond broker for negligence in treatmentUpdated: Jul 14, 2020 00:47 IST
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) directed a city hospital to pay a compensation of ₹7.5 lakh to a 74-year-old diamond broker for medical negligence, which led to the loss of two fingers of his left hand.
“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 aged 74, during the course of treatment given in the respondent hospital,” said an NCDRC bench, comprising presiding member Prem Narain and member C Vishwanath, while holding Breach Candy Hospital liable to compensate Peddar Road resident Murlidhar Chhabria.
On September 18, 2005, Chhabria was admitted to Breach Candy Hospital for coronary artery bypass graft, and two days later he underwent the surgery. A month later, he was required to get a re-suturing done after blood was found to be oozing from his chest.
After the surgery, Chhabria was shifted to an intensive care unit (ICU), where his wife noticed that his left palm and fingers were burnt. The burn injuries were treated after he was discharged from the hospital, and on November 21, 2005, he was operated upon for the burns. To his shock, Chhabria found that his middle and little fingers had been amputated owing to development of gangrene.
Following the incident, in 2006 he filed a complaint before the Maharashtra Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, alleging medical negligence on part of the hospital, which resulted in burning of his left hand and amputation of two fingers. He prayed for compensation worth ₹50 lakh on the grounds that being a diamond broker and an expert in the assortment of diamonds, the absence of fingers was not only a loss of body parts but also of earning capacity.
The hospital denied the allegations and maintained that as no heaters were used in its operation theatres or 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 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 burning of hand and lead to gangrene.
Accepting the stand of the hospital, on March 28, 2012, the state commission dismissed the complaint, observing that the treating doctors exercised due care and caution in operating and treating the diamond broker. Chhabria then moved NCDRC to appeal against the state commission’s decision.
The national commission, however, refused to accept the hospital’s stand and said, “When there were no chances of any burn caused due to heaters in the OT [operation theatre]/ICU or of any cautery burns 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. Never the case was treated as TDHS,” said NCDRC, adding that the theory was introduced two years after treating the 74-year-old, and the “wisdom” about TDHS appeared for the first time in the affidavit in reply to the consumer’s complaint at the state commission.
“Theory of TDHS has been floated only as a cover up to their medical negligence, resulting in permanent injury to the patient,” the bench observed, adding that the doctors who treated the diamond broker ought to have consulted a diabetologist and a dermatologist at the earliest and if proper diagnosis and treatment would have started earlier, the complainant could perhaps have been saved from permanent injury and damage.
The bench further said that the amputation of finger ends involves loss of bone, a very serious consequence for the complainant, but no effort was made to properly diagnose the problem (the abnormal condition of the hand in time), ultimately leading to the amputation of finger ends.
“This is certainly a case of gross medical negligence on the part of the respondent hospital and the complainant is to be compensated for loss of body parts, trauma, agony and source of livelihood.”