Chandigarh hospital indicted for transfusing wrong blood group

June 3rd, 2009 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court has indicted the Chandigarh-based Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) for the death of a woman by transfusing blood of a wrong group.
A bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice R.M. Lodha upheld a ruling by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, which had ordered the hospital to pay damages of Rs.200,000 to the woman’s husband for causing her death due to gross medical negligence.

“Mismatched blood transfusion to a patient itself speaks of negligence. In the facts and circumstances of the case, it cannot be said that the death of Harjit Kaur was not caused by the breach of duty on the part of the hospital and its attending staff,” the bench ruled in its May 29 verdict released later.

“Wrong blood transfusion is an error which no hospital or doctor exercising ordinary care would have made. Such an error is not an error of professional judgement but in the very nature of things a sure instance of medical negligence,” it said.

“The hospital’s breach of duty in mismatched blood transfusion contributed to her death, if not wholly, but surely materially,” the bench ruled.

Harjit Kaur of Ludhiana had suffered accidental burns up to 50 percent March 30, 1996, while making tea. She was rushed to the Daya Nand Medical College and Hospital at Ludhiana where she received treatment till April 19, 1996.

The court found that though she had been recovering well, her husband shifted her to PGIMER for further treatment as the Ludhiana hospital was expensive. Her condition continued to improve at the Chanidgarh hospital too.

But problems cropped up after the transfusion of blood of a wrong group May 20, 1996. Though she received blood of her own A+ group on May 15, on May 20, owing to oversight of the medical staffs, she was given blood of the B+ group.

The consumer commission and apex court, hearing her husband’s lawsuit, found that “owing to transfusion of mismatched blood, Harjit Kaur became serious; her haemoglobin levels fell down to 5 mg, and urea level went very high.”

“Later on, it transpired that due to the transfusion of mismatched blood, the patient’s kidney and liver got damaged and she died July 1, 1996,” the court noted.

The hospital had argued that the woman had died of septicaemia and not of mismatched blood transfusion.

The Punjab consumer commission and the national consumer commission in September 2000 had ordered PGIMER to pay damages worth Rs.200,000 to the woman’s husband, besides Rs.5,000 in litigation costs. The apex court ordered the hospital to pay him Rs.20,000 more towards litigation costs.

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