Harm resulting from a doctor’s error in judgment would not necessarily be held as a case of medical negligence. To prove negligence, it has to be shown that the doctor’s conduct was below the standards of care required from a responsible, competent medical professional, said a northeast Delhi district consumer forum, while directing a hospital to pay Rs 15.11 lakh to woman, who has suffered a permanent disability in her hand after being provided an intramuscular injection in an incorrect manner. According to the complainant, she was admitted to a hospital in Nehru Vihar, Karawal Nagar Road, for the delivery of her child on February 20, 2012.
On February 21, she underwent a caesarean. Two hours after the surgery, the nurse attending to her gave her an intramuscular injection, following which she initially suffered pain and swelling. Her condition kept deteriorating despite “false assurances” by the hospital, she alleged. She also said she was not provided treatment records when she decided to go to another doctor. The woman maintained that due to the deficiency in services, she suffered severe damage in her hand and was unable to do day-to-day chores. Hence, she sought compensation. Denying all allegations, the hospital said the woman was a “high-risk patient”as she was pregnant for the fourth time.
Before the surgery, a cannula (a tube put in the vein to release the intravenous infusions directly in the bloodstream) was inserted in her right hand. After delivery, she acted in “blatant defiance” to their advice of “restricting movement” of her hand. The “movement” resulted in swelling, for which she was provided adequate treatment. The woman was informed that it would take around a month for the hand to heal. She was then discharged with the necessary documents. The complaint was based on “unscientific layman conjectures”, the hospital said. A bench of President N K Sharma and Member Nishat Ahmad Alvi said the hospital and the doctor’s only defence was that the patient did not take due care as she was of “restless nature”.
“Was it not the duty of the doctors and nursing staff to take special care when they were aware that the patient is of restless nature and extravasation (leakage) of any drugs from the veins could lead to gangrene?” “It appears that the doctor and the nursing staff were negligent, while the patient was a helpless victim. If medication was given properly… the injury would not have occurred, and gangrene could not have set in the hand and arm. It is a case of gross negligence…” the bench said adding that they had to pay compensation for “deficiency in services and unfair trade practices”.