Family feuds with doctors, fails to impress the court

  • Posted on: August 25, 2022

The patient, an elderly woman, was admitted to a well-known hospital in serious condition. The family wanted to admit her in a private room, although her medical condition necessitated ICU care.

Unfortunately the senior citizen succumbed to the complications - her family, to the desperation of suing healthcare providers.

It was alleged that the patient was not admitted in the private room despite several requests. It was further alleged that the ICU staff negligently inserted central venous catheter (CVC) which led to swelling around the neck, breathing difficulties and other complications.

She underwent sessions of dialysis, developed severe chest pain and had to be put on ventilator. The patient kept on suffering at the hands of doctors and hospital staff till her last breath, claimed the family.

The hospital and doctors rebutted these unfounded allegations. It was stated that patient was brought to the hospital from previous hospital as case of multi-organ failure with a history of hypertension, stage-V chronic kidney disease, advanced azotemia, bacterial pneumonia and sepsis.

Her family, for reasons known to them, was desperate to admit the patient in a private room but the condition warranted hemodynamic and respiratory monitoring which is possible only in an ICU. Their contention about patient’s condition deteriorating after attempting CVC is factually incorrect since the patient underwent CT scan of chest which did not show any sign of haemo / pneumothorax, further stated the doctors.

The hospital concluded the defence with a strong statement, which was also mentioned in medical records – that the family members were informed about each and every measure taken to alleviate patient’s sufferings and regularly updated about her condition. But they showed resistance and even abused the operating doctors.

The Commission seemed to be clearly unimpressed with the complaint made by family members. After going through the entire set of medical records, the Commission dismissed the case against hospital and its doctors, and stated the following:

“In the present case, what has actually transpired is that there was unwillingness on part of the family members on every step of the treatment, whether it may be of admission in the ICU instead of the private room or the insertion of Ryles Tube and so on. The progress note sheets is a proof - that whenever certain suggestions were made by the operating doctors, the family members would deny the permission and even get into argument sometimes”.

“Furthermore, even though they have not spared a word against the operating doctors in their complaint and have challenged each and every step which was being taken for patient’s treatment, the family members have failed to bring on record any substantial evidence, oral or documentary, in support of their contentions”.

Source: Order pronounced by Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 4th April, 2022.