Law & Judiciary

    Delhi State Consumer Commission directs Sir Gangaram Hospital, its doctors to pay damages to family of deceased patient

    The Hawk
    February14/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Delhi Commission Holds Sir Gangaram Hospital Guilty of Negligence: Rs 720,000 Damages Awarded. A landmark judgement underscores duty of care in medical practice and the importance of patient rights.

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    New Delhi: The Delhi State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission recently held Sir Gangaram Hospital and its five doctors guilty of negligence and directed them to pay damages to the kin of the patient.
    The patient had approached the hospital for the removal of her spleen in 2015. The patient had succumbed to her ailment in 2015. The petitioner alleged negligence on the part of the hospital and its doctors.
    "We hold that the Opposite Parties being a team of doctors working conjointly, were negligent and deficient in providing their services pertaining to accurate diagnosis and operative care of the patient," the commission held in the judgement.
    The bench headed by Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal (President) disposed of the petition filed by Basant Lal Sharma and directed the hospital and doctors to pay damages of Rs 510,000 for physical agony, Rs 1,20,000 for mental distress and Rs 90,000 for litigation expenses within two months and before April 9, 2024.
    The commission said, "A medical practitioner who is consulted by a patient, owes him certain duties, namely, a duty of care in deciding whether to undertake the case; a duty of care in deciding what treatment to give; and a duty of care in his administration of that treatment. A breach of any of these duties will support an action for negligence by the patient."
    It is crucial to remark here that the discussion be treated as an advisory to all medical practitioners and members of the healthcare industry to be careful while dealing with human lives, the commission said in the judgement dated February 9, 2024.
    The commission remarked that the Opposite Parties being a team of doctors, are dealing with human lives and not guinea pigs. The treating doctors, working in synergy, cannot use the patient as an "experimental site" without adhering to the standard line of medical treatment.
    "It is to be noted here that the Opposite Parties owed a duty of care towards the patient. The whole postoperative treatment of the patient was based on the test reports, which turned out to be faulty," the commission said.
    It was submitted by the opposite parties that the spleen of the patient was handled as biomedical waste as per the Biomedical Waste Rules. It was further submitted that in the present case, no CCTV recording was done, and a reply dated July 29, 2015, was sent to the complainant by the Opposite Party (the hospital), mentioning that not all surgical procedures are routinely recorded.
    It was further submitted that the complainant made a complaint to the Delhi Medical Council alleging medical negligence on the part of the Opposite Parties and a second complaint along the same lines, however, the Council, in its orders dated December 30, 2015, and November 9, 2016, observed that no medical negligence was made out on the part of the Opposite Parties.
    The complainant had submitted that the Opposite Parties made undue delay in providing the medical record of the patient and the complainant was made to run pillar-to-post asking for the intervention of various authorities to obtain the medical record from the Opposite Parties, still the record was not supplied to him.
    On the other hand, it was the contention of the Opposite Parties that the entire record of the case sheets, investigations, bills, death summary, etc. was provided to the complainant on July 7, 2015.
    The commission said that it can be concluded beyond doubt that the conduct of the Opposite Parties fell below that of the standards of a reasonably competent practitioner in exercising skill and competence and the Opposite Parties conjointly failed to take reasonable care of the patient.