A case of ‘rigid procedures over medical ethics’

  • Posted on: December 24, 2020

Raj, a 58-year old man, had a history of diabetes and hypertension. He was admitted at the hospital with complain of pain under his left arm. Tests performed at the hospital reported coronary artery disease (CAD).

The doctor advised coronary arterial bypass graft (CABG) after fifteen days. Raj was taking blood thinners to manage his heart problems, which were discontinued next day and Heparin was started. Three days later, the patient suffered a mini stroke. Other doctors at the hospital advised a CT scan. The patient’s son could not get the scan done immediately as he did not have INR 1,850 handy and the hospital insisted upon it!

Eventually the CT scan was performed after four hours which revealed large hematoma. The patient soon slipped into coma and died after ten days.

The doctors and hospital were sued by patient’s son. He made several allegations, but main among them was delaying and refusing CT scan for want of mere 1,850 rupees whereas he had already deposited INR 1,50,000 for the planned CABG!

The Commission also was not pleased with the hospital and its’ doctors’ decisions. It was observed that despite the patient suffering a mini stroke, CT scan to ascertain the cause was done after four hours. The delay in diagnosis and treatment proved to be fatal for the patient, further observed the Commission while stating the following:

“Although the patient was in most urgent need of the diagnostic CT scan but it was delayed for getting a receipt of INR 1,850 towards its charges. It seems at that relevant time the rigid protocols prevailed over the medical ethics, which amounts to failure of duty of care.”

The hospital and its doctors were held negligent for this fatal delay.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, on 11th August, 2020.