The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) bench upheld the award granted by the State Commission to the kin of the Patient whose death was caused due to medical negligence by the Doctors. [Dr. Rajender Manchanda vs Chhinder Kaur and 8 others].
Facts of the case
In the year 2003, Mr. Baj Singh (Patient) was examined by Dr. Harbinder Singh, owner of the Guru Ram Dass Hospital. He was diagnosed with a stone in his gall bladder and was advised to undergo an operation. He was admitted to the hospital and on 12th October 2003 around 7 a.m. he was taken to the Operation Theatre. Dr. Rajender (Petitioner) gave the Patient an injection of Pentothal Sodium without a test dose and any pre-anaesthetic check-up. As a result, the Patient’s body began trembling and the Doctor Harbinder Singh immediately pushed further the injection in one stroke which made the Patient’s condition worse.
The relatives were asked to leave the room as they visibly noticed the confusion, panic, and constant running in and out by the Three Doctors. After two hours passed the relatives came to know through the para medic that the Patient died within a few minutes after the administration of anesthesia and was deliberately kept in dark about this information. They were also told that the Doctors did not put any effort to revive the Patient. The Hospital was not equipped with the basic equipment or machines like Ventilator, Defibrillator, Cardiac Monitor, etc.
It was found that Dr. Rajender was in hurry to serve his duty at the Civil Hospital in Ferozepur therefore he administered the dose without any pre-test. The Relatives of the Deceased filed a First Information Report (FIR) and the Post mortem was conducted on 12th November 2003. As per the reports, the cause of death was Cardio Respiratory Arrest caused by the reaction to the drug used. The board of Doctors of Guru Ram Dass Hospital did not disclose this information before and had malafide intentions.
The relatives raised a consumer complaint in the District Commission for negligence by doctors wherein the Commission awarded a sum of Rs. 3,60,000/- (Rupees Three Lakhs Sixty Thousand Only) to the kin of the deceased’s family. After this, the Hospital, Dr. Rajendra, and the Insurance Company filed a First appeal whereas the relatives filed an appeal for enhancement of the compensation. However, the State Commission dismissed the First appeal and enhanced the award amount to Rs. 7,00,000/- (Rupees Seven Lakhs Only). This aggrieved Dr. Rajender and the Insurance Company and lead them to file revision petitions.
The Petitioners argued before the State Commission that the Operation Theater and anesthesia were in working order and the Patient was not directly concerned with him hence the cause of action does not arise against him.
Observations by the NCDRC
The Commission emphasized the fact that no consent from the Patient was taken. The consent form had only one signature rest all the details were left out and not filled in. There is no dispute that Dr. Rajender was a silent spectator when Dr. Harbinder Singh injected the 10 ml anesthetic Pentothal Sodium which led to the death of the Patient. Also, the Hospital was to be blamed for not having adequate and necessary equipment.
The Bench comprising presiding members Dr. S.M. Kantikar and Mr. Binoy Kumar concluded that Dr. Rajender was accountable as he injected the dose without proper monitoring and in the absence of a Cardiac Monitor Machine the doctors could not detect cardiac arrest. The NCDRC dismissed the said revised petition and upheld the award passed by the State Commission.