The state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed a private hospital and a surgeon to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to a patient after he suffered hearing loss. The order observed that the patient was not given post-surgery instructions on the discharge card.
Setting aside the district forum’s order of August 2015, which had dismissed the patient’s claim, the commission last week held that the patient’s informed consent was also not properly taken. The commission held that the allegations of a hurried and wrongly conducted surgery as well as failure to take corrective steps to treat the patient’s deafness were not proven against the surgeon and the hospital. But, it held them to be ‘deficient in services’ given to the complainant. It also pulled up the expert committee formed in state-run JJ Hospital, which had given its report to the district forum, calling it “ambiguous”.
According to the order, the complainant, a Kurla resident, had consulted the surgeon, Dr Rajeev Nerurkar, in Bombay Hospital for reduced hearing in his right ear. After medical examination and tests, surgery was suggested to him. It was performed at the same hospital by the surgeon on February 9, 2010. The patient was discharged the next day.
On February 15, the complainant had to be readmitted as he was complaining of severe giddiness and was discharged again after three days. The complainant claimed that he consulted other Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialists and compared his audiometry reports before and after the surgery, to find that he had suffered loss of hearing in his right ear. He then filed the complaint alleging medical negligence and deficiency in service.
The complainant claimed that apart from a form for the operation seeking ‘blanket consent’ in the event of any consequence that may arise out of the surgery and admission of anaesthesia, it did not give any record of counselling, information of the name of the operation, surgeon, expected complications. The complainant’s advocate told the commission that it was only explained orally.
“We have observed that there are no pre-surgical fitness notes or fitness certificate that is mandatory as per the protocol of surgical management of patient. So, even though the treating doctor is competent surgeon, he has to take the reasonable precautions and care in pre-operative and post-operative stages,” the commission said. It also agreed with the complainant’s contention that no instructions on post-operative care were received by him from the surgeon or the hospital nor were they written on the discharge card.
It also said the district forum had called upon and relied on a report submitted by an expert team of JJ Hospital to decide whether it was a case of medical negligence. It said that the report had ‘ambiguity in the wordings’, due to which its evidentiary value was lost.
“We do not find the purpose of expert committee opinion is met with, since the opinion is in medical language without coming out with the standard of care in such cases and whether in the instant case, it has met the accepted standard of reasonable care and there was medical negligence or not (sic),” the commission said, stating that it expected the expert committee to give a ‘clear-cut opinion’ as to whether standards of reasonable care were met with or not. It directed that compensation towards mental agony, trauma and inconvenience experienced by the complainant should be given jointly to the complainant by the surgeon and the hospital.