NCDRC Awards 25 Lakh Compensation for Medical Negligence

The NCDRC recently passed an order where it held a hospital and doctor guilty of medical negligence and directed them to pay compensation to the family of the victim.

Brief facts of the case Shobha Agarwal & Ors vs Escorts Heart Institute and Research Center, New Delhi & Ors

Mr Sharad Kumar from Jabalpur was admitted to the Escorts Heart Institute & Research Centre Ltd in New Delhi due to a heart ailment. Some tests were done he was sent back to his hometown Jabalpur.

After he went back to Jabalpur, he went for regular check-ups at a cardiologist’s clinic. On 28.08.2001, he complained of some discomfort and was admitted to Anant Nursing Home. he was examined by Dr Sanjay Nema and was diagnosed with ‘unstable angina’. The doctor advised him to go for an immediate Coronary Angiography and was referred to EHIRC, new Delhi. 

He was shifted to EHIRC New Delhi immediately. He was attended to by Dr Ashok Seth and was advised to undergo Coronary Angiography. His attendants were asked to deposit Rs. 1.5 lakh and they obliged. The family of Mr Kumar asked Dr Seth to perform the angiography himself, but another doctor performed it. 

In the evening, the doctor told the family of Mr Kumar that an Angioplasty should be done and it was scheduled for the next day. Friend of the patient Dr Agarwal, who had travelled with the patient asked the doctor why the angioplasty was not done during angiography. The dr replied that it could not be done as he was busy. Dr Agarwal requested that he be allowed to be present during the procedure and in the emergency room. The request was denied.

The angioplasty was scheduled to be performed the next day at 2 pm, and the relatives of the patients alleged that the patient was not provided with a room throughout the night. The angioplasty got delayed until 6 pm, and no reason was provided for the same.

The patient was taken to the cath lab at around 5:30, and the procedure did not begin till 6:15. Soon after the attendants of the patients were informed that the patient had suffered two cardiac arrests, and they were trying to revive him. While he was shifted to the Heart Command Unit, the younger brother of the patient noticed a straight white line on the heart monitor, which indicated that the patient was already dead. The hospital declared the patient dead at 8:35 pm.

The family of the patient then passed a complaint before the NCDRC and alleged deficiency and negligence on the part of the hospital and doctor.

Arguments raised by the complainants:-

It was stated that even though the patient was diagnosed with unstable angina, his proper care was not taken. Even though the tests revealed severe TVD, LVEF 35% and apical hypokinesia, his treatment was done on the next day. It was also submitted that angioplasty should have been done on the same day and there was no need to postpone it.

The counsel stated that it was the duty of the hospital and doctor to protect the life of the patient, which was not done in this case. It was also stated that the patient had died due to gross negligence of the doctor and hospital.

Arguments of the Defence

The defence stated that the allegations were false and the patient was provided adequate care. As soon as the patient was admitted, his treat for unstable angina had begun. It was also stated that his condition was the same as it was on his last visit. It was also mentioned that a room in ICU was not provided because patients with his conditions can be kept in a regular ward.

It was stated that all possible care was given to the patient, and all the procedures done or scheduled were done after consent of the attendants. It was also stated that the death of the patient was a rare case, but it was not unforeseen.

Analysis of the Commission:

The NCDRC observed that even though the patient’s relative requested the doctor who had examined the patient to conduct angiography, it was done by another doctor which though not negligent but was ethically wrong.

It was also noted that even though the patient was suffering from TVD, he was kept on a trolly rather than being shifted to an ICU.

The NCDRC further noted the fact that even though the tests revealed that his condition was severe and the angioplasty was scheduled for the next day, which was unreasonable.

Even though the procedure was set to take place at 2 pm on the next day there was a long delay, and he was only taken to the operation room at around 5:50 Pm. the Court opined that this delay constituted a breach in the duty of care.

The NCDRC also noted some contradictions in the bills and critical flow chart. It was opined that a room rent of only 500 was way below the rent of such a big hospital. In the critical flow chart, the date is mentioned as 2004 while it should be 2001. All these defects might indicate foul play.

The decision of the NCDRC

The Court held that in the present case, there was medical negligence on the part of the hospital and the attending doctor. The complaint was allowed, and the hospital and the doctors were directed to pay Rupees 25 lakh to the family of the patient.

Case Details:-

Title: Shobha Agarwal & Ors vs Escorts Heart Institute and Research Center, New Delhi & Ors

Case No.: CONSUMER CASE NO. 168 OF 2003

Date of Order: 21.08.2020

Coram: Presiding Member Dr SM Kantikar and Member Dinesh Singh

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