Not all mistakes amount to negligence

  • Posted on: December 17, 2020

Kusum suffered from recurring episodes of urinary tract infection (UTI). She consulted Dr. Kochhar at his clinic with urine culture report. The doctor prescribed medicines accordingly.

After about two months, Kusum approached the doctor again with another urine culture report which showed significant growth of E-coli. Dr. Kochhar admitted her at the hospital, and after performing tests and administering relevant medicines performed therapeutic cystoscopy.

An ECG was performed next day which indicated rising cardiac enzymes and hypotension. Kusum was referred to a higher center which was located close by.

Unhappy with the prolonged treatment, Kusum sued Dr. Kochhar. It was alleged that he should have treated UTI and E-coli infection before performing the procedure. She also alleged that the doctor issued two different discharge summaries with contrary clinical findings to cover his mistakes!

The Commission rejected patient’s claims. It was observed that Dr. Kochhar prescribed medicines during Kusum’s first and subsequent consultations specifically to treat UTI. He also modified line of treatment when E-coli infection was first reported. Before the procedure, urine culture test reported sterile. These steps proved that the patient was under adequate antibiotic cover before the procedure was performed.

The Commission observed that issuing two discharge summaries was an honest mistake. The first one was prepared on the 9th of that month considering that the patient would be fit for discharge. However, the ECG reported cardiac problems and hence she was discharged on the 10th, that is, the next day. Another discharge summary was prepared on the 10th and the nurse mistakenly handed over both discharge summaries to Kusum.

Observing that the mistake did not amount to negligence, the Commission ruled in favour of Dr. Kochhar.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, on 11th August, 2020