‘Meter down’ - NRI taxi driver tries to trap the doctor for compensation, fails miserably

  • Posted on: October 29, 2020

Satbir Singh, a taxi driver from Australia, was in India attending wedding of his close relative. A firecracker burst right on top of his right foot causing grave injuries.

He was hurried to the hospital where the orthopaedic surgeon took an X-ray and diagnosed fracture in the small bones of right foot. The badly burnt and soiled first web space was cleansed and debrided.

Subsequently, a surgery was performed for K-wire insertion. Plaster of Paris was applied and the patient was discharged in few days with clear instructions to visit for daily dressing. After couple of days, Satbir insisted for a fit to travel certificate on the pretext of visiting his relatives. After a lot of coaxing and cajoling, the good doctor conceded to the persuasive patient – he issued a fitness certificate in good faith.

Satbir smartly used that certificate to travel back to Australia instead! But lady luck caught up with him – and she was dressed in black! Satibir’s foot developed major infection. He was hospitalized, underwent two surgeries and eventually his first and second toe along with web space were amputated!

As soon as he recovered, Satbir travelled back to India and sued the doctor, claiming that the K-wires were fixed negligently which necessitated amputation. He also claimed a hefty compensation!

The honourable Consumer Commission was unimpressed by the tall claims. At the outset, it was observed that the procedure performed by orthopaedic surgeon was in line with the established treatment protocol. The infection and subsequent amputation was a direct result of patient’s own negligence – he was advised to come for daily dressing and avoid travel. The fitness certificate issued by the doctor in good faith was misused, and patient faced its consequences.

The patient also plotted to prove the doctor negligent by not submitting complete medical records. The Commission observed that the doctor had issued general instructions on his letterhead but the patient did not file complete document – he had withheld a page!

Two abundantly clear learnings for healthcare providers from this case – maintain copy of medical records and avoid issuing certificates which may be contrary to patient’s condition.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 29th June, 2020.