Not submitting a reply to specific complain, as good as admitting guilt

  • Posted on: June 04, 2020

Not responding to specific complains and allegations made by the patient in a court of law usually draws adverse inference. In the eyes of law, it is nothing but submission of guilt and the doctor / hospital is usually held negligent, as happened in this case.

Lalit sustained fracture in the left tibia during an unfortunate road accident. He approached the local hospital where doctors applied plaster and inserted a plate the same day. However. Lalit’s misfortune seemed to have just begun as electro diagnosis revealed loss in nerve distribution of left tibia and paralysis of peroneal and tibial nerves.

He approached Dr. Agarwal for better management. The doctor made an incision in the soft tissue, drained the pus and installed a PVC splint, but left it open. Another surgery was also performed by the doctor and these two actions – of installing the splint and performing a surgery – led to severe complications for the patient and several ones for the doctor.

Lalit sued the doctor and alleged that he left tibia exposed after the surgery. The PVC splint caused shortening of leg by one and half inch and the left leg was rendered disabled by forty percent – a disability certificate was presented to prove this claim.

The doctor presented several facts in his defence – debridement was done, dead tissues were removed, incision was done, metal plate was not removed for patient’s benefit, no expert or medical literature was provided to prove the claims, etc.

But what about the allegation of PVC splint causing complications? Where is your reasoning on that allegation? The Commission asked these questions while observing that the doctor did not even claim verbally that the PVC splint could not have caused shortening of leg or its disability.

This proved that the doctor was negligent, ruled the Commission and ordered him to pay compensation.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 4th February, 2020.