Patient asphyxiates while having tea, Doctor is dragged to the court by his family.

  • Posted on: April 05, 2016

Jagdish, a retired central government employee, slipped and fractured the femur and was admitted to B.A.R.C. hospital under the care of Dr. Nair and Dr. Khandekar on 17th May. The doctors conducted tests for diabetes and hypertension and the patient was doing well. On 21st May, while having his tea and biscuits, Jagdish vomited and unfortunately aspirated it into the trachea resulting in severe asphyxiation. He was immediately shifted to ICCU and put on ventilator with SIMV support, after which there was improvement in his health and he responded to oral commands. Late in the evening however, Jagdish had a cardiac arrest and could not be revived in spite of resuscitation – he was no more.

Jaya, the patient’s wife, was not ready to believe that her husband died suddenly. She thought it must be the doctors’ fault and approached National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission making allegations on doctors. She alleged that the doctors stopped her husband’s diabetes medication on 19th May for unknown reasons and no definite cause of death was ascertained by them. Seems fishy, doesn’t it questioned Jay.

The allegations on them was something to be suspicious about, thought Dr. Nair and Dr. Khandekar while presenting their defence. The doctors submitted that Jagdish was immediately provided necessary treatment when he asphyxiated. Endotracheal intubation was done, the food matter was promptly sucked out, respiratory passage was cleared and the patient was given oxygen, further submitted the doctors. They also specified that anticipating ventilator care, the patient was shifted to ICCU but he had a cardiac arrest in the evening and despite their best efforts the patient could not be revived. The doctors pointed out that the family of the patient opposed the postmortem and hence the certifiable cause of death given by them was terminal cardio-respiratory arrest, pneumonia, diabetes-mellitus.

The Commission had no suspicions about the case once the doctors made their submissions and presented the evidence. The Commission observed that there was no evidence to establish Jagdish’s sudden worsening of health, which resulted in his death, had anything to do with alleged discontinuation of diabetes medication. Moreover, there was no evidence to show that it was discontinued and allowing to eat biscuits with tea cannot be an act of medical negligence because the death is not related to it, further observed the Commission. Post mortem would be of immense help to ascertain the exact cause of death, but the relatives of the patient did not allow it. The death was unfortunate but that does not establish any negligence on the part of the doctors concluded the Commission and ruled in favour of the relieved doctors.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 2nd February, 2016