More than two decades after the death of his 40-year-old wife due to medical negligence, a city resident will receive a compensation of Rs 4 lakh. Enhancing the compensation from Rs 50,000, awarded by the state consumer commission, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) said, “The doctor was seriously amiss in treating the patient.”
The complainant had said he took his wife, who was suffering from high fever, to a doctor’s clinic in Karol Bagh on September 14, 1996. He paid the fees, but the doctor did not give any prescription, nor did he use a sterilised injection, he said.
As the fever persisted, he took his wife to the clinic again after five days and the doctor administered two more injections on her arm and hip, he said. This resulted in severe inflammation and pain on her left arm but the doctor said it was the effect of the strong medicine, he said.
As her condition continued to worsen, the husband took her to the clinic again on September 21 when the doctor said he will not be able to treat her any more. He referred her to a government hospital. Two days later, her left arm was amputated. Her condition did not improve, and she died on September 25, said the complainant.
He registered an FIR and the doctor was issued notice. After failing to get a response to the notice, the complainant moved the State Consumer Disputes Redressal forum in the capital. Alleging “gross medical negligence”, he sought a compensation of Rs 10 lakh. Refuting the charges, the doctor said there was no negligence and he could not be blamed for the death as the post-mortem report showed no definite opinion on the cause of death. “The whole story was cooked up,” the doctor said.
The state commission, in November, 2011, awarded a compensation of Rs 50,000, saying there was “limited deficiency” on the doctor’s part for not ensuring the injection was duly sterilised.
The complainant then moved the NCDRC, while the doctor filed an appeal against the order. A bench of commission president D K Jain and member M Shreesha said, “Proper and timely diagnosis is the key deciding paradigm for the line of treatment for a patient. Anything going amiss at that stage is a critical circumstance to determine… whether or not an error of judgment… is tantamount to negligence.”
The bench noted that the two prescriptions given by the doctor neither had the patient’s medical history, nor did it provide provisional diagnosis. It said that despite being aware of a government notification about rampant spread of dengue at that time, he did not advice any clinical tests. When the patient visited him on September 21, she had symptoms of dengue, even basic investigations were not advised, the bench said. Noting there was “no diagnostic dialogue,” the bench said, “We have no hesitation in concluding that the doctor was negligent in treating the patient.”