Humanity v/s humanitarian grounds

  • Posted on: May 13, 2021

The patient underwent left shoulder arthroscopy at the hospital. During the procedure he developed sudden hypotension and bradycardia due to anaesthetic complications. The doctors initiated emergency resuscitative measures and shifted him to ICU and ventilated. The patient survived and partially recovered but fate was not kind to him. He slipped into a vegetative state and was subsequently discharged for home care.

The patient’s family was financially poor. The hospital waived off entire medical expenses exceeding fifteen lakh rupees and also agreed to pay forty five lakh rupees as a one-time settlement cost, which was accepted by the family. The patient eventually died after about six months.

The family, after accepting compensation, sued the hospital and claimed that it had agreed to pay one crore, but coerced them into accepting forty five lakh rupees only.

The hospital rejected this allegation and stated that waiving off the bill and granting compensation was agreed upon purely on humanitarian grounds. A MOU was signed by the attendants after accepting the terms, concluded the hospital authorities.

The Commission rejected family’s plea for additional compensation, and stated the following:

“We have perused the entire treatment record and the evidence filed by the hospital. It was an alleged anaesthetic complication during arthroscopy procedure. The doctors immediately followed ACLS protocol and performed CPR, however the patient suffered hypoxic brain injury and became vegetative. It is apparent that though medical negligence was not determined against the hospital; on humanitarian grounds and considering patient’s condition, the hospital paid INR 45 lakh. Therefore, we are not inclined to go into the merit of the instant case”.

The attendants had an option of not signing the MOU. But was it fair suing the hospital after accepting their offer?

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, on 24th March, 2021.