Consumer Forum dismissed Medical Negligence case; consented surgery not performed

A case of medical negligence and deficiency of service filed by 60-year-old petitioner against an orthopedic surgeon and a hospital has been expelled by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Jalandhar. The petitioner alleged that despite consent, no surgery was performed despite consent.

The plea submitted that the patient moved to the hospital for the treatment of displaced/broken bone of left arm. She was suggested surgery which was consented by her husband who immediately brought the medicines for the operations and provided them to the doctor in the operations hall so the treatment could begin.

However, the doctor did not perform surgery and put a plaster on the left arm instead to which the patient objected. The next day, she complained that the pain is very severe and unbearable. The doctor changed her medicine, but that too was not effective.

The patient was then shifted to another hospital and after examining all the treatment records, the treating doctor there advised surgery as per the consent of the patient which was done successfully.

The petitioner moved to the consumer forum alleging medical negligence and service deficiency against the previous hospital. The counsel and the doctor denied the allegations stating that the Anesthetist who was about to assist the surgery suggested that the patient is not in a condition to have a surgery due to her age and overweight and that the surgery could be a risk to her life.

It was also advised by the Anesthetist that after the treatment of POP, the wounds would stabilize after six weeks and then it would be ascertained whether she needed surgery or not, and she was asked to come for the follow-up action. The rest of the averments were denied by the hospital council and they prayed for dismissal of complaint. The doctor also stated that he examined the complainant for the purpose of suitability to undergo an operation and found that she was not conducive to undergo surgery.

After considering both the parties’ arguments, the commission observed and said that the doctor held the opinion that the patient needed treatment of POP as she is an aged 60-year-old patient and was overweight having her physical condition, not to the extent that she could withstand the surgery. The opinion of the Anesthetist who was to assist in the surgery also suggested that the patient was not fit to undergo surgery.

The bench noted and said, “We find that grouses of the complainant are that firstly her left arm has displaced/broken and need some surgery. Secondly when the treating doctor did not perform the duty as per the consent, we think that the above grouses of the complainant are not authenticated because the surgery given to the patient depends upon the doctor, and not on the patient and the doctor performed the duty as per his knowledge and caliber and he cannot depend upon the consent of the patient because surgery or given proper treatments to the patient is regular routine work of the doctors as per their profession.”

The commission observed one of the apex court’s observation and noted: A medical practitioner would be liable only, where his conduct fell below that of the standards of a reasonably competent practitioner of his field. Negligence cannot be attributed to a doctor so long as he performs his duty with reasonable skill and competence. It would not be conducive to efficiency of the medical profession, if no doctor could administer medicine without a halter round his neck.

The commission dismissed the complaint finding nothing on record of non-qualification of doctors or their inability to follow the medical protocol while prescribing the treatment of the complainant, saying:

In absence of an expert doctor’s report, we are unable to rely on the bald submissions of the complainant in this regard, who is not a medical expert person in the medical science, attributing medical negligence to OPs. We are unable to come across any substance on the file to prove medical negligence on the part of OPs.

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