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After Apollo, consumer panel faults Max hospital for negligence

Days after penalising Apollo Hospital for carrying out “unnecessary tests” on a terminally ill patient, the Delhi Consumer Commission has now slapped a penalty of Rs 1.5 lakh on Max Hospital...

Written by Utkarshanand | New Delhi | November 2, 2008 1:01:21 am

Days after penalising Apollo Hospital for carrying out “unnecessary tests” on a terminally ill patient, the Delhi Consumer Commission has now slapped a penalty of Rs 1.5 lakh on Max Hospital on account of poor medical care that landed a 70-year-old man in ICU needlessly.

Dismissing the hospital’s appeal against a consumer forum order, Commission president Justice J D Kapoor held that if a patient was to be admitted in ICU owing to lapses of doctors, the expenses could not be fleeced from him or his family. Had the doctors been vigilant and careful, the ICU charges could have been avoided, the Commission said in its recent order.

The remarks from the consumer panel came as it heard the cross-appeals filed by Max Hospital, Pitampura, and Dr Dhanesh Agrahari.

While Max approached the Commission aggrieved by the forum’s order asking it to pay Rs 75,000 to Agrahari for medical errors in treating his septuagenarian father, Agrahari sought a bigger compensation. The earlier order, he claimed, did not take into account the money he was forced to spend for ICU treatment.

Agrahari’s father was admitted to Max in May 2005 for knee replacement surgery and the hospital charged him Rs 3 lakh for the treatment. The operation was carried out successfully on May 19, the complaint says, but the patient developed complications the following day.

As per the complaint, he developed ‘Hyponatraemia’, resulting in irritability and sudden rise in blood pressure, as the doctors failed to take prompt corrective measures. The patient turned violent and was out of his senses, Agrahari complained.

The septuagenarian was admitted in ICU after his condition deteriorated further. Agrahari claimed his father was in ICU for three days and could be saved only because he and his wife are both medical practitioners.

But Max denied any negligence and contended that best medical care was provided to the patient, and that the patient’s problem existed before he was admitted in the hospital. The hospital also claimed that the doctors took utmost care in treating Agrahari senior.

The Commission found substance in the earlier order as the consumer forum had relied on opinion of independent medical experts on the line of treatment. Justice Kapoor observed that doctors treating the patient should have been on high alert. They “could have anticipated that the patient can develop Hyponataemia in post-operative period because of (advanced) age and had been feeling drowsiness and restlessness since long,” the judge noted.

The Commission raised the compensation to Rs 1.5 lakh, including Rs 50,000 Agrahari paid for ICU expenditure.

Before this order, the Commission had imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on Apollo Hospital for keeping a patient admitted “unnecessarily” for 10 days. “The hospital prolonged the treatment to raise bills upon him,” the Commission had ruled.

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