False assurance costs patient her life, twenty lakh to hospital and doctors

  • Posted on: April 05, 2019

Doctors and hospitals should assure only care and not cure. While most practitioners are aware about this basic tenet of healthcare, for reasons unknown, some boast about best facilities and promise of cure. And that is their undoing.

Bindu and Vijay were rejoicing at the prospects of being first time parents, but were also worried as Bindu had fibroids. They visited Dr. Sonia who advised them to be admitted at Holy Angel hospital for deliver with a promise of best facilities and guaranteed treatment.

Believing in the doctor’s good advice, the couple went to the hospital and Bindu was admitted there. But to the couple’s shock and dismay, there was no doctor present to look after the patient. A nurse gave her tablet and soon Bindu got the labor pain. It took almost thirty minutes for another doctor to visit and check Bindu’s condition, which by then was deteriorating. In next hour, the patient started bleeding and the other doctor asked Vijay to arrange for blood, which he did, but which also took an hour. By that time unfortunately, Bindu’s condition had gone from bad to worse. And this is when Dr. Sonia came and visited her for the first time in the hospital.

Both doctors advised that the patient should be taken to a higher center as the hospital did not have appropriate facilities. Vijay perhaps could not believe what was happening, but would’ve been helpless too. He took Bindu to other hospital where a baby was delivered, but the mother could not be saved.

Wrenched at the facts that lead up to his beloved’s death, Vijay approached State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi and sued both doctors and hospital. He alleged that Dr. Sonia falsely assured of best facilities at the hospital despite the same being not available there. There was not even an anaesthetist present, let alone the fact that the blood should’ve been arranged beforehand knowing that the patient would be coming for delivery of her baby. The hospital and doctors ought to have known about possible complications and should have made appropriate arrangements. He also alleged that the other doctor simply started the treatment without even knowing the patient’s complication and Dr. Sonia came too late to see what had transpired.

The hospital and Dr. Sonia seemed to be indifferent, or that is what one may have thought by the defense they took. While not responding to any allegations levelled by patient’s husband, it was simply stated that Delhi Medical Council had exonerated them of any wrong doing. Even another doctor from a reputed hospital had given them a clean chit.

The Commission obviously was not impressed – both doctors and hospital were found guilty of negligence on several counts, as it stated the following: “The patient had agreed to go to the hospital for treatment having been assured that it is well equipped with all the facilities which was found at a later stage lacking. Secondly there was no one to attend to the patient when her condition was deteriorating. Thirdly the other doctor who came to treat the patient was ignorant about her medical condition. Fourthly the treating doctor was not available when the patient needed her most, the fact which stands corroborated by the observation made by the Delhi Medical Council. Fifth, when the patient was taken to the operation theatre, there was no one available to give anaesthesia. Sixth, the hospital of repute as it was claimed, did not have blood for transfusion on emergency basis forcing the patient’s husband to arrange for it from outside consuming a lot of time when every minute was vital. Seventh infrastructure to handle grave and complicated serious cases was unavailable”.

The doctors and hospital was ordered to pay twenty lakh rupees as compensation.

Source: Order pronounced by State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 22nd January, 2019.