A small lapse costs doctor lakhs

  • Posted on: October 15, 2019

Doctors have to be careful when referring patients to another doctor or a facility – they ought to send relevant medical records and documents. Not doing so amounts to medical negligence, as this case establishes.

The patient had approached Dr. Vijay for Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) and ligation of fallopian tubes. After performing clinical tests, the doctor conducted MTP through the vaginal route and ligation was planned via laparotomy. During the procedure it was observed that the appendix was in an unhealthy state and the same was removed. A senior surgeon was called to aid the procedure.

Unfortunately, peritonitis and other complications developed three days after the procedure and the patient was referred to another hospital where a colectomy was performed.

The patient, after recovering from complications, sued Dr. Vijay and alleged that the first surgery was performed negligently due to which the uterus was perforated and the appendix also had to be removed.

Dr. Vijay presented stated that the patient was counselled about MTP and was advised against it as she was in the 14th week of pregnancy, but she chose to go ahead with it.

The Commission agreed with the doctor’s defence. It was observed that the perforation to uterus was accidental and the complications of MTP during second trimester of pregnancy are well known. However, from medical records of second hospital, the Commission observed that Dr. Vijay had provided an incomplete referral letter. The surgeon at the other hospital had made a note in the medical records which stated that ‘injuries during the first procedure not mentioned in the referral letter’.

For this lapse the doctor was held negligent and ordered to pay compensation of almost three lakh rupees.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 6th May, 2019