Technical snag? Fair. Not doing anything about it, unfair

  • Posted on: December 15, 2022

The patient was referred to this national reputed hospital in a critical condition. The doctors promptly attended him and performed tests. USG reported extensive surgical emphysema, along with obscured liver, gall bladder and pancreas. The patient experienced breathing problems.

Two X-rays were also taken within a span of twenty-four hours. The second one reported air under the diaphragm. Hence, the doctors performed emergency laparotomy.

During the operation, the ventilator that was used turned out to be defective. Therefore, AMBU bag was used for manual ventilation.

Despite sincere efforts, the doctors could not save the patient. He died after about ten days of the surgery.

Patient’s family were inconsolable and adamant. They laid blame of their loss upon the doctors and the hospital. Their two main allegations were that the senior doctor arrived late to check the patient and a defective ventilator was used during the surgery.

The hospital admitted that there was a fault in ventilator, but also stated that AMBU bag was promptly used. Moreover, the patient survived for ten days after the procedure which showed that the fault in ventilator had no connection with patient’s death.

The Commission observed that the senior doctor was operating upon another critical patient, hence there was a slight delay. However, the patient was duly attended by other equally competent doctors, therefore he could not be held negligent.

The Commission did not agree with hospital’s defence and observed the following:

“It was a fair admission on part of the hospital about non-availability of ventilator because it was defective. However, no steps were taken to repair such defective ventilators and that certainly amounts to deficiency and failure of duty care towards the emergency patients. The hospital authority was responsible for regular maintenance and servicing of the life-saving equipment.”

The hospital was held negligent for this lapse and ordered to pay compensation to patient’s family.

Source: Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 4th July, 2022.