Take an informed consent or dole out compensation

  • Posted on: March 09, 2017

In an insanely bizarre incident, a hospital denied extracting tooth of a patient who was in acute pain. Reason for this denial was that the patient wasn’t accompanied by his relatives!

Dr. Rama performed Austin Moore Prosthesis (AMP), but that was just the beginning of troubles for Lalithamma. The pain in her right thigh shot after the surgery, and in spite of continued treatment by Dr. Rama at the hospital for 15 days. She eventually got fed up and lost faith in Dr. Rama’s treatment and approached KIMS Hospital where Hemiarthroplasty right hip (loosening, AMP in situ) was diagnosed. Another surgery was performed at KIMS Hospital after which the patient was relieved of the shooting pain.

It’s Dr. Rama’s turn to bear the pain, Lalithamma must’ve thought as she approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, armed with facts and allegations. She alleged that Dr. Rama prepared the case papers after the surgery was performed and did not even obtain proper consent before the surgery. She also alleged that while Dr. Rama had informed her husband about four type of surgeries that could be performed, the same was not mentioned in the reply filed by him. Even the doctors at KIMS Hospital opined that the surgery performed by Dr. Rama was an utter failure. Its gross negligence and cheating, exhorted Lalithamma.

Dr. Rama was cool as a cucumber, or was pretending to be like one. He presented a letter written to Dr. A.V. Gurava Reddy, Chief of Orthopedics at KIMS Hospital in which he had requested clarity on the failure during the surgery, to which Dr. Reddy had replied that he never opined negligence or failure to the patient on his part. Dr. Rama further stated that the patient was advised to continue treatment for three months and was asked to visit him for regular follow-up, but did not do so. Even the report from KIMS Hospital was silent on what caused the loosening of AMP in Situ, then how can I be held negligent, questioned Dr. Rama. In his concluding statement, the doctor stated that the patient and her husband had mentioned “accepted for surgery” in the complaint and retorted that these are baseless allegations against me.

The Commission had seen this kind of posturing and knew it all too well, as was evident from the observations and ruling it made. The Commission stated the following: “Dr. Rama has not produced the consent form, nor denied patient’s statement that she or her husband were not informed of her general condition and the proposed course of treatment, as also the risks involved therein. Dr. Rama’s contention that the patient and her husband had “accepted surgery” did not absolve him of the responsibility to obtain proper consent. Moreover, there is force in patient’s arguments that the doctor had informed the complainant’s husband about four types of surgeries, but the said fact did not find place in the reply submitted. In the light of these facts, it can be concluded that the doctor is guilty of not obtaining informed consent from the patient. Moreover, in the discharge summary given by the KIMS Hospital, and the reply sent by Dr. A. Gurava Reddy, it has been stated that procedure was performed upon the patient for loosening Austin Moore Prosthesis (AMP). The doctor could not relieve patient’s pain by diagnosing the source of pain and prescribe proper medicines, rather he continued to administer the same medicine. The doctor should have advised the patient to go to higher institution much earlier, rather than keeping her in his hospital for a number of days”.

This long but rather accurate observations by the Commission sealed Dr. Rama’s fate and that of Lalithamma’s. The doctor was ordered to pay more than a lac as compensation!

Source:Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi on 8th December, 2016