After setting aside the State Commission’s ruling and clearing a Mahim hospital and its senior gynaecologist of the charge of medical negligence, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission determined that there was no evidence of willful negligence more than two decades after a pregnant woman and her unborn child died while she was being admitted for her second delivery.
In 2015, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ordered Surlata Hospital and Dr. Sharad Gogate to compensate the deceased Sunita Shate’s husband Sarasheej Shate and their little daughter with Rs. 20 lakhs.
President Justice RK Agrawal and member SM Kantikar of the National Panel said in their ruling that the state commission had erroneously relied exclusively on the testimony of a doctor named MD Gupta who had determined that Dr. Gogate had engaged in egregious negligence. It said that because the doctor was not a gynaecology expert, his advice was not trustworthy.
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The medical board of AIIMS was consulted by the committee, who concluded that there was no proof of medical malpractice. It also reviewed relevant medical literature and came to the conclusion that Caesarean deliveries are linked to an uncommon disease that occurs during delivery.
It said the condition was not within the control of any doctor to anticipate or prevent and there is no evidence of willful negligence or breach of the duty of care.
On September 21, 2000, Sunita was induced due to labour pains. Shate said before the state commission that the doctor left her in the hands of the nurses and “aayas” while telling them to wait for a “normal birth” even though she needed a C-Section. He claimed she began vomiting the following day, her health deteriorated, and she passed away.
Both the hospital and the physician had disputed this. The doctor said he had delivered 5,500 babies during his 28 years of practise and that the accuser had omitted a number of details. He said that the husband had asked him to cause labour pains because they lived far away in Mulund, and that was the reason he had provided labor-inducing medications. In addition, when the medication did not work, a procedure was carried out, and the patient and her family were advised that it may produce vomiting but that they need not be alarmed.