Frivolous complain against doctor draws court’s ire

  • Posted on: January 17, 2019

There are several instances of patients and their relatives dragging doctors / hospitals to courts based on their whims and fancies. The courts do not take such misadventures lightly as this case shows.

Sunanda took her father, a 73 year old man, to Dr. Jayant with complains of rectal bleeding, constipation and loss of appetite. The septuagenarian was admitted at Jewel Nursing Home where a CT scan was performed that reported hydrocephalus. Lumbar puncture was performed by the doctor to drain out cerebral fluid. The doctor advised Ventriculo Peritoneal (VP) shunt procedure but Sunanda and family refused and shifted the patient to another hospital.

By the time patient was admitted to another hospital his condition had deteriorated and unfortunately died within a period of ten days.

The angry daughter dragged Dr. Jayant to Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and laid several allegations. At the outset, it was alleged that there was no consent taken to remove the cerebral fluid. It was further alleged that the hospital where Dr. Jayant performed lumbar puncture didn’t have emergency care facilities and hence she decided to shift him to another hospital.

The blame game had just begun, as there were other allegations, most of them unfounded, laid by the patient’s daughter. It was alleged that the enema to treat constipation problem and the urethral catheterization was done by an unqualified nurse and not a proper doctor.

Sunanda was alleging doctor’s every act of care. It was alleged that her father was admitted under the same doctor at the other hospital and his carelessness was evident from the fact that the patient received physiotherapy without considering his advance age. What’s more, she alleged, is that Dr. Jayant ought to have put the patient on haemodialysis especially after noting that his kidneys had started failing – the doctor’s delay cost the patient’s life.

Phew! Dr. Jayant may have sighed a breath of relief as the the bounty of allegations finally came to end as he started to confidently present his defense. Submitting complete medical and treatment records before the Commission, the doctor stated that the patient was suffering from a host of comorbid chronic medical conditions, was bedridden for two years and was without medication for last one year.

The patient was diagnosed with a moderate degree of hydrocephalus with changes of diffuse cerebralatrophy and a neurosurgeon was consulted who opined that the patient required lumbar puncture and if his condition improved then VP shunt was to be considered. Sunanda, the patient’s daughter, herself gave an informed consent for this, stated the doctor. She was also explained that VP shunt was a corrective treatment and not a curative one, and despite explaining her entire procedure, she did not opt for it.

Contrary to allegations, the enema and urethral catheterization was done by a registered and qualified nurse at the hospital, added the doctor. Moreover, it was not possible to give vigorous physiotherapy to a patient who had poor balance and only bedside physiotherapy was given, further stated the doctor.

Lastly, the senior nephrologists at the other hospital, after examining the patient performed peritoneal dialysis initially and haemodialysis subsequently. Even a senior cardiologist was consulted given patient’s poor condition.

All these facts are recorded in the medical and treatment records and the patient’s daughter is simply making baseless allegations, concluded the doctor.

The Commission saw merits in Dr. Jayant’s stand as everything he presented in defense was indeed meticulously recorded. The Commission observed that VP shunt was advised after making clinical investigations but patient’s daughter refused the same. It was further observed that she did not present any expert opinion or any definitive proof to substantiate her claims and hence her complains were merely based on whims and fancies.

The Commission opined that the complains were frivolous in nature and lodged to harass the doctor who had followed standard protocol to treat the patient. Almost as if to make an example of this case, the Commission ordered the patient’s daughter to compensate the doctor.

Source: Order pronounced by Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Mumbai on 19th December, 2018.