Delhi hospital fined Rs.500,000 for negligence

October 21st, 2008 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) A consumer court has asked a leading government-run hospital here to pay Rs.500,000 in compensation to the widow of a man who underwent incorrect radiotherapy as a result of which he died.”Taking an overall view of the matter, we find the hospital alone guilty for deficiency in service and in our view a lumpsum compensation of Rs. 500,000 shall meet the ends of justice,” Justice J.D. Kapoor, president of the Delhi Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said in his order.

The ruling came on an appeal of the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital against an order of the district consumer commission asking it to pay Rs.800,000 in compensation.

Ramveer Singh had been admitted to the G.B. Pant Hospital here Dec 16, 1997 and was operated upon Dec 19 for removing a tumor. He was discharged Dec 26.

However, he suffered a relapse and was again admitted to the hospital April 25, 1998, was operated upon May 1 and was discharged a week later.

Singh was then referred to the LNJP Hospital for radiotherapy for removing tumor tissues that had developed in his body. The treatment commenced May 25.

Singh underwent two sessions of radiotherapy. In the first, lead blocks were placed around the affected area of the spinal cord but in the second, but in the second, wet cotton gauze was used instead. This resulted in Singh being paralysed from the waist downwards. He ultimately died Oct 20, 2004.

Singh had first approached the district consumer forum, alleging that the LNJP doctor who conducted the radiotherapy was a trainee and did not check the focus of the heat on the affected portion of his body, thus causing his paralysis.

The district forum awarded Singh’s widow Rs.800,000 but the LNJP Hospital contested this, saying there had been no medical negligence on its part. No complications had occurred due to any error in conducting the radiotherapy, the hospital said in its appeal to the state consumer commission.

In his order, Kapoor said: “Whenever a patient lands himself in a hospital, private or government, his direct contract is with the hospital and not with the attending staff or the doctors as there is no consideration paid to those doctors or staff individually.”

He further noted the direct relationship was between the patient and the hospital. Therefore, no individual doctor can be held liable.

“The consumer does not avail services of such doctors individually by paying fees or consideration to those doctors directly. It is only those persons whose services are hired or availed that come within the net of a service provider,” the commission ruled.

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