The Consumer Forum directed the Alchemist Hospital at Panchkula, and its insurance firm, the New India Assurance Company to jointly pay Rs 1.10 lakh jointly to a breast cancer patient for improperly injecting the chemotherapy medicine during the treatment, which caused her pain, swelling and redness on her arm.
In the judgment released on June 20, the forum, while holding that there was lapse and deficiency on the part of the Alchemist Hospital, also mentioned that the New India Assurance Company cannot escape the liability by stating that there was a breach of the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. Thereby, it directed the hospital and the insurance firm to jointly pay an amount of Rs 50,000 to the complainant on account of the permanent scar on her right forearm, another Rs 50,000 on account of physical pain and harassment, and Rs 10,000 as cost of litigation.
The complainant and patient, Parveen Singal of Panchkula, had been getting her treatment for breast cancer at the Alchemist Hospital of Sector 21, Panchkula. She said for her chemotherapy, a medicine was required to be injected into her veins. On October 20, 2016, the medicine was injected by the doctor and staff of the hospital in her forearm. However, after the injection, some part of it extravasated, which resulted into pain, redness and swelling on her forearm.
Singal, then, consulted Dr Rupali Garg of the hospital, who advised her to apply ointment and take tablets orally, but there was no relief. Singal, wife of a Lieutenant Colonel (Indian Army), also visited the Command Hospital, but her condition did not improve. The doctor there suggested “excision and split skin grafts”. Since the pain was intolerable and blood was oozing out of the wound, she approached another private hospital at Mohali, where she she spent a hefty amount. Thus, Singal filed a formal complaint against the Alchemist Hospital on October 11, 2017, at the Consumer Forum of Panchkula.
The Alchemist Hospital in a reply submitted that incorrect insertion of the IV drip on peripheral line is common during medical procedure. Their hospital has a standard protocol to remove the drip as soon as any swelling is visible and their staff, as per the standard procedure, removed the drip as soon as the initial signs of redness and swelling were shown. Dr Rupali Aggarwal had prescribed her the medicines usually recommended to reduce swelling and pain. The complainant was suggested to come for a review, if the discomfort continued, however, the complainant never came back for any follow-up.
The New India Assurance Company, submitted a separate reply and said that the complainant has to prove what the doctors had done and what they had failed to do, as per the standard-prescribed documented procedure, as per medical literature. They also said that they have not been informed by the hospital or the complainant, thus, there is a breach of the terms and conditions of the insurance policy.
Meanwhile, during the hearing of the case, medical literature related to the complications of chemotheraphy were considered, following which, the forum had concluded that,”Extravasation is a severe complication of chemotherapy. Prevention by adequate guidelines of chemotherapy administration and training of nurses is of utmost importance. In case of extravasation, correct treatment according to the specific drug should be given.”
The forum, in its judgment held that, “…Facts itself speak that this case was taken as a case of general administration of medicine through IV, whereas, special care and precaution were required to be taken in case of chemotherapy, looking at the dreaded complication of extravasation…Though we are conscious of the fact that extravasation may happen despite all the care to prevent. However, in this case, there is no evidence of any special care taken and specialized staff appointed or immediate treatment action followed on reporting of swelling and redness at the injection site and even thereafter…”