doctors - service - providers

Allegation of Medical Negligence and your Rights.

The Hon’ble Apex Court and National Commission has laid out several guidelines with regard to the duty & obligation of medical practitioner towards the patients. The law requires fair and logical reasons to hold a medical practitioner responsible for mishandling a case.

To prove medical negligence, law requires expert’s opinion or any written guidelines on medical science to validate the processes. Since any allegation based on assumption can affect a medical practitioner’s career, the responsibility lies upon the complainant to prove the facts of any kind of negligence or incorrect treatment.

Consumer cases with allegations of medical negligence in absence of the evidence from the expert (s) can be dismissed by the Consumer Court.

If you or anyone you know is a victim of medical negligence, please reach out to us. We are here to support you in your cause. Connect with our Award Winning consumer rights adviser for free at www.powertoconsumer.in

doctors are gods consumer king

If Doctors are Gods, Then Consumers are Kings

At Power to Consumer, we feel it is our moral obligation to make our blog readers aware of the powers of being a consumer. And the strength the term carries. One such area where we feel we really need to empower our readers of their rights is in the area of medical negligence. Time and again we have come across cases where the callousness of a medical professional caused grave consequences to the life of an innocent patient.

We want to make you aware of certain real life cases, and the legal course that was taken, so you know how to seek justice should an unforeseen situation trap you or your loved ones.

The first case study that we had covered in this domain was the case of a Jai Prakash Mehta vs. an ENT Specialist. Today, we will be talking about the case of Dr. Balram Haldar Vs. Dr. Kunal Saha & Ors.

Overview

Dr. Kunal Saha’s wife Smt. Anuradha Saha developed severe skin rashes all over body. She had developed Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, a rare, life-threatening skin condition usually caused by reaction to drugs. She started visiting Sukumar Mukherjee, a doctor at Nightingale Diagnostic Center, Kolkata. Seeing no improvement in her condition, Dr. Kunal Saha got her admitted in the ‘Advanced Medicare and Research Institute Limited (AMRI), Kolkata’. But there instead of showing improvement, her condition worsened. Finally, Dr. Kunal decided to admit her to the reputed Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai. Unfortunately, Mrs. Saha breathed her last in that hospital in a span of just ten days.

An Aggrieved Dr. Saha Lodged a Complaint

Premium Legal SupportShocked at the death of her wife, Dr. Kunal Saha felt strongly in his heart that it was the sheer callousness of all the doctors treating his wife that led to her death. He knew that it was a severe case of medical negligence, and he took it upon himself to fight for justice. He, accordingly, served legal notices upon the doctors of AMRI alleging negligence and deficiency in their treatment. He claimed a total compensation of Rs.55 crores  from the Hospital.

But AMRI dismissed his complaint.

Approaching Consumer Court

Aggrieved at the dismissal, he filed a case in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission slapping a compensation of over seventy-five crores on AMRI, Kolkata. He also filed another case of Rs.25 crores against Breach Candy Hosptial, Mumbai, but later withdrew the same. The compensation amount that Dr. Kunal Saha was the highest ever claimed by a complainant for the cause of medical negligence. 

The Legal Battle Began

A protracted trial taking note of the legal position governing the question of medical negligence followed. But the National Commission dismissed Dr. Kunal Saha’s complaint stating [su_highlight background=”#99fbff”]that doctors or surgeons do not undertake that they will positively cure a patient.  There may be occasions beyond the control of the medical practitioner to cure the patients.[/su_highlight]

Aggrieved by the dismissal of his complaint, Dr. Kunal took the matter to the Honourable Supreme Court of India through a Civil Appeal. The Apex Court through its Order remanded the matter to the National Commission, but only for the limited purpose of determining the adequate compensation. The Supreme Court observed that:

 “[su_highlight background=”#99fbff”]So far as the judgment of the National Commission is concerned, it was clearly wrong in opining that there was no negligence on the part of the Hospital or the doctors. [/su_highlight]We remit the case back to the Commission, but only for the purpose of determination of the quantum of compensation. We further direct that if any foreign experts are to be examined it shall be done only through video conferencing and at the cost of the respondents”.

Persistence Always Pays

Premium Legal SupportOn being remanded back, Dr. Saha’s case was elaborately discussed by the Honourable National Commission. They decided to grant compensation to the tune of 1.5 crores in favor of Dr. Kunal Saha.

But the case didn’t end here.

Several re-appeals were made against the quantum of compensation. Both by AMRI to scale down and by Dr. Kunal Saha for enhancement. The re-appeals were filed in the Supreme Court. The Apex Court amalgamated all said appeals and passed a landmark verdict.

[su_highlight background=”#99fbff”]The Honourable Supreme Court passed a judgement in favor of Dr. Kunal Saha by levying a fine on AMRI and the three doctors. They were asked to pay a compensation to the tune of 11 crores that included the interest from the date the case was filed by Dr. Kunal Saha.  [/su_highlight]. Out of this compensation amount, the Honourable Supreme Court was pleased to award a substantial amount on account of Consortium, also beside other losses, being incurred so far – [Consortium means companionship, affection & assistance that each Spouse in a marriage is entitled to receive from the other].

The judgement also set a milestone for the highest amount of compensation granted in a case of medical negligence. The Apex Court also directed the erring three doctors & hospital to file a compliance report of payment to Dr. Kunal Saha within the next eight weeks.

Our blog readers can read more about the case on the Supreme Court’s website at www.stpl-india.in the case titled as Dr. Balram Haldar vs. Dr. Kunal Saha and Ors.

Our View

This particular case was a landmark decision in the area of medical negligence. It tested the limits of patience of a consumer. But in the end the consumer came victorious as the right judgement was accorded. We are sure that the passed verdict will be a deterrent for hospitals and doctors to take act responsibly.

Doctors are considered as Gods on earth. We entrust our life as well as the lives of our precious ones in their hands thinking that they will do their best to serve us, as they are bonded by the Hippocratic Oath to practice medicine honestly. The least we can expect them is to uphold their professional standards.

What you can do now?

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of such medical negligence, log on to www.powertoconsumer.in and submit your complaint. We will do our best to help you exercise your power as a consumer.

doctors - service - providers

Medical Negligence and Compensation

A patient seeks medical help for treating an injury or a condition, and the treatment turns into a grave matter of life and death for the individual. Haven’t we all heard of such serious cases of medical negligence before? Of patients being diagnosed for simple conditions and losing their lives in the bargain. All due to serious neglect by a  medical professional.

But there are, we believe, many more such cases which are not brought out due to the simple reason of a patient not seeking for what is his right as a ‘consumer’ of the hospital – proper service. But today we are sharing a case study of an empowered consumer who did appeal for justice and compensation against a doctor on grounds of medical negligence; and was adequately compensated last week by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission – NCDRC.

Premium Legal SupportJai Prakash Mehta, a resident of Bihar, while working as a contract labourer for Indian Railways suffered a serious electric shock leading to severe burns on his right hand. He was immediately taken to Dr. B. N. Rai, an ENT specialist in Rohtas, Bihar for treatment. He was under the medical treatment of Dr. B. N. Rai for a span of two weeks. Later he was referred to the [su_highlight]Institute of Medical Sciences and S.S. Hospital of the Banaras Hindu University where he was informed that due to wrong treatment gangrene had set in his body, and his right arm needs to be amputated in order to save his life[/su_highlight].

Jai was shocked to hear this, and knew that this was a case of sheer medical negligence for which he was being made to suffer. He approached the Bihar State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to seek justice, but was not granted his right as the Commission dismissed his plea for compensation.

But Jai Prakash didn’t give up. He filed for a revision of the Commission’s statement in NCDRC. NCDRC’s president D.K.Jain and members Vineeta Rai and Vinay Kumar went through the case once again, and as per the provisions laid in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, set aside Bihar State Commission’s order stating the fact this was a case of medical negligence.

In their Order they stated that, [su_quote] “He(Dr. Rai) did not adopt the practice in respect of diagnosis and treatment in the case, which would be adopted by a doctor of ordinary skill in accordance with at least one of the responsible bodies of opinion of professional practitioners in the field, since he gave only first aid treatment which was totally inadequate and ineffective for injuries caused by serious burns.”[/su_quote] They also made an observation that Dr. Rai being an ENT specialist should not have even treated the electric burns as ‘prima facie’ he did not possess adequate skills and should have referred a specialist. As a result they granted the case in favour of Jai.

Jai Prakash Mehta was granted justice as he exercised his ‘power as a consumer’. What about you? Are you or any one you know a victim of such callous medical treatment? Log on to Power to Consumer and let us know.

Image By Hmhedp – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26928007