The correct definition of patient’s interest is…

  • Posted on: November 16, 2023

The only definition of ‘patient’s interest’ as far as rendering medical treatment is concerned, is the treatment that alleviates patient’s condition. Proceeding with an intervention / treatment at the insistence of patient / relatives does not fit in the legal definition of ‘patient’s interest’, as doctor in this case discovered.

A 68-year-old lady with last stage liver cancer experienced severe heart ailments. She had approached several hospitals where angioplasty to insert a stent was advised.

Her family finally decided to heed to the advice and approached a doctor and insisted for angioplasty. The doctor gave in, hoping that he was doing so in patient’s interest. Unfortunately, she died five days thereafter.

The doctor, to his utter surprise, was sued by patient’s family. It was alleged that he did not consider opinions and advice shared by doctors from other hospitals and proceeded with angioplasty!

The surprised doctor stated in defence that it was patient’s family that insisted in performing angioplasty in the first place. He pointed out that they were explained about the fact that angioplasty was not a cure, and at best it may improve the quality of patient’s remaining life.

The State Consumer Commission rejected doctor’s defence, as it observed the following:

“Although patient’s family insisted for performing surgery, the doctor ought to have not performed at the interest of patient. We are of the opinion that if angioplasty was not performed, she might have lived further without any complications. Though the reason for her death is not angioplasty, performing it is professional negligence when she was suffering from some other illness. The operating doctor should always see, whether the patient was fit for surgery or not. In this instance case, the doctor had not conducted any such tests prior to taking her to angioplasty. As such, it is clear case of professional negligence.

The doctor was held negligent for performing angioplasty, which apparently was not in patient’s best interest.

Source : Order pronounced by Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission 4th October, 2023.