Pregnancy at fifty! Allegations of negligence misconceived

  • Posted on: February 08, 2024

The patient, a 50-year-old lady, had conceived twins through IVF. She was under regular antenatal care of the gynaecologist. Unfortunately, bleeding developed and hence emergency C-section was performed, twins were delivered.

The patient suffered atonic PPH and bled profusely. Hysterectomy was performed, after which she stabilized. But only for a little while.

Unexpected complications developed, and the patient was rushed to another hospital. She was declared brought dead.

The worst was not over for her husband. The twins did not survive either. One child died on the fifth day and the other on forty seventh day. 

Devastated and distraught, patient’s husband sued the gynaecologist and the hospital claiming that doctor neither controlled the bleeding on time, nor referred her to another hospital on time. The babies also died due to negligence of the doctors and hospital, claimed the bereaved husband.

The doctor rebutted his allegations with pointed replies, stated below:

  1. The patient – a diabetic on insulin treatment – had undergone IVF procedure thrice at a different hospital earlier, all of which had failed
  2. The couple insisted on IVF even after explaining risks of pregnancy given patient’s age and condition
  3. The patient developed ante-partum haemorrhage and placenta previ       a, therefore hysterectomy procedure had to be performed
  4. Blood was transfused on account of low haemoglobin level  

The matter at hand was complicated. The State Consumer Commission obtained expert’s opinion and saw merit in defence taken by the doctor. The Commission observed the following:

“Evidence led in by the expert is significant. She has given evidence that the patient had a complicated condition as she was having placenta previa which is a serious condition. She was a diabetic patient which was also an adverse factor and that is why doctors had started blood transfusion. The patient was at the age of fifty when she got admitted in the hospital. When a lady aged fifty years becomes pregnant, one would expect more complications compared to an ordinary delivery. Placenta previa condition may result in frequent bleeding”.

“Patient’s delivery was a highly complicated one on account of placenta previa, caesarean and also hysterectomy. The expert was definite on perusal of the medical records that no inference regarding negligence on part of the doctor could be drawn. The expert had also given evidence that in certain cases placenta previa may cause patient’s death”.

“From the intra-operative notes one can understand the complexity of operation carried out. A portion of the uterus was found adhered to the lower part of sigmoid colon and in such situation when those areas were removed, possibility of causing an injury may arise. It can be seen that the injury caused to the sigmoid colon was properly sutured in layers. So, one cannot infer any negligence on the part of the doctors in conducting the operation”.

While it was heartbreaking to lose his wife and twins, patient’s husband may have got the closure by this evidence. Or so we hope.

Source : Order pronounced by Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 13th December, 2023.