Patient’s hope of compensation dies with the doctor

  • Posted on: July 17, 2018

In a case of medical negligence, if the doctor is held negligent but dies before the closure of the case, does the patient get any relief? Do the courts have the right to attach the doctor’s properties to compensate the patient? Read on to know.

Dr. Banerjee had performed total knee replacement procedure on Dipankar’s right leg but to no avail. Despite several follow ups and continued medication, the pain in patient’s leg did not subside.

Fed up of the prolonged suffering, Dipankar approached another doctor who performed second surgery and removed the prosthesis and diagnosed Klebsielle Specia at the operated site which had eroded the bones. The patient had to undergo a third surgery at another hospital after which he was unable to walk without support.

With these facts, the patient approached State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal and pleaded for justice and compensation.

However, unfortunately, Dr. Banerjee died in meantime and hence Dipankar could not be awarded any compensation. The Commission delivered its ruling stating the following: “In a tort of medical negligence, the cause of action is personal against the person who has been negligent in discharging his duties and that the cause of action does not survive against his estate or the legal representatives. In this case, the maxim Actio personalis moritur cum persona, meaning personal right of action dies with the person, a general rule, is applicable to action in torts and, therefore, the cause of action against the party against whom an action in tort is brought is extinguished on his death. It is unfortunate that no relief in the present case can be accorded to the patient on account of Dr. Banerjee’s death”.

Source: Order pronounced by State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal on 18th June, 2018

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