Patient dies in a nursing home lacking infrastructure and skills

  • Posted on: July 07, 2017

A nursing home or hospital ought to have proper infrastructure, and its doctors are duty bound to show reasonable care while treating the patients. When this does not happen, it becomes lose-lose situation for all involved.

Tapan Kumar and his wife’s joy knew no bounds as they were expecting a child. She was taken to Dibyalok Nursing Home as soon as she developed labor pain, where Dr. Mukherjee admitted her under his care. Hoping to see his wife and hold the newborn in his hands soon, Tapan was waiting for the doctor for good news, but that wasn’t to be so. Mrs. Kumar delivered a baby boy but her condition became very critical after the delivery. She developed Post-Partum Hemorrhage (PPH) and started profusely bleeding from vagina. The doctor tried several treatment but was unsuccessful. Blood transfusion was needed but for reasons best known to him, the doctor had not checked the same. Eventually, the patient had to be transferred to another hospital and an ambulance was called, but unfortunately, she died in the meantime.

With a heavy heart carrying an unbearable loss, Tapan approached the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal pleading that he be heard and the Nursing Home and Doctor be booked for sheer negligence. He alleged that the doctor took more than two hours to admit his wife even though she was in labor. What’s more, he continued, that the doctor did not even ascertain his wife’s blood group before the delivery and that was against standard of practice. The Nursing Home lacked the basic infrastructure, such as skilled nurses, and adequate size of OT room as per the Clinical Establishment Act. It was further alleged that Dr. Mukherjee did not use the process of Balloon Tamponade which has long replaced uterine packaging which the doctor used as a procedure to stop vaginal bleeding. Citing accepted medical literature, Tapan also alleged that the doctor did not manage PPH properly as was evident from non-application of Oxytocin 10 IM along with 20 units of IV in the solution with 60 drops per minute and its repetition, and15-Methyl Prostaglandin IM 0.25 mg and continuation of the same every 15 minute until it reaches to 2 mg. If a layman like me can find out such facts easily, why can’t a practicing doctor? I need justice, pleaded Tapan.

Dr. Mukherjee seemed to be in no mood to take it lying down, despite clear indications of negligence. It was stated that the management of PPH was done correctly and he committed no mistake. It was further stated that the patient did not produce any previous medical records of her antenatal treatment and hence, she was the one that was negligent! Finally, the doctor submitted before the Commission that Balloon Tamponade was not in use at the given time and hence, non-application of same does not indicate any negligence on his or the Nursing Home’s part.

The Commission had medical records to know exactly what went wrong and who erred. It was observed that the patient was not taken to the OT immediately as the time of baby’s birth and time of admission had a gap of two hours, and this fact by itself indicated lack of proper care and diligence. It was further observed that uterotoinc drugs should have been administered within a minute of the onset of PPH, instead the doctor waited for a while before doing so. Citing accepted medical literature, it was also observed that the doctor did not undertake hysterectomy as per standard treatment protocol in case of uncontrolled PPH. Ruling the doctor and the Nursing Home guilty of negligence, the Commission stated the following: “The Nursing Home is not only vicariously liable for the lapses of the doctor but also directly liable for absence of proper infrastructure such as, absence of skilled nurse, as is evident from its letter relating to appointment of nursing staff, and also for the absence of standard area of the OT as evident from the letter of the CMO, Hooghly”.

Tapan received the much deserved justice and a compensation of almost twenty lacs. Would it be enough to raise a child without a mother?

Source: Order pronounced by State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maharashtra on 22nd September, 2017