New Delhi, Jul 17(ILNS) The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) enhanced the cost of Rs 25000/ imposed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maharashtra on Hinduja National Hospital to Rs 3, 51,000/ saying that the hospital staff made careless mistakes putting innocent lives at risk.
The NCDRC on July 08, while dismissing a Revision Petition filed against the Order passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maharashtra on November 28,2019 in which it had imposed a cost of Rs. 25,000/ modified the order directing the Petitioner to pay Rs. 3,51,000/ saying that the hospital staff made careless mistakes putting innocent lives at risk.
“Patient Safety aims to prevent and reduce risks, errors and harm that occur to patients. The “Deny and Defend” approach of the hospital/doctor had a significant impact on patient safety. Unfortunately, when hospital staff and administrators do not keep their hospitals well organized or the supporting staff make careless mistakes, innocent lives could be at risk. When protecting the institution is the primary goal, poor practices are excused and justified, and patients remain at risk of injuries,” NCDRC bench said.
The facts of the case is that the complainant Harsha Ashok Lala (patient) came to the P.D. Hinduja National Hospital (Petitioner) on October 9, 2012 at around 1.15 PM for follow-up checkup of her spinal surgery which had taken place in the last week of September 2012.
It was alleged that she was very rashly and negligently wheeled from hospital corridor, on the ramp by an unidentified security guard without putting the seat belt, as a result of which she suffered ‘head on fall’ from the wheelchair and sustained fracture of left (ankle) lower end fibula tip. She further alleged that immediate first aid was not given, and she was made to stand in que for payment of X-Ray charges which caused further pain and agony.
It was further alleged that the incident was reported immediately to the Hospital authorities but to no avail. The Hospital willfully avoided informing the police about such a serious accident in their premises. It was gross negligence & deficiency in service from the supportive staff at the hospital. Being aggrieved by the negligent care and conduct of the hospital, Harsha filed the Consumer Complaint before the District Forum and claimed compensation of Rs.16,00,000/. She also filed one Criminal Complaint – FIR in the concerned Police Station.
In the District Forum P.D. Hinduja National Hospital filed its written version. It was submitted that the Complainant was an old patient of their hospital. They admitted the fall of the patient from the wheelchair on October 9, 2012. The junior doctor attended her immediately and a provisional diagnosis was mentioned as un-displaced fracture of lower end of left tibia. The treating doctor, Dr. Sanjay Agarwal examined her and ruled out any fracture or any dislocation of the left ankle joint and mentioned, it was only swelling around the ankle joint. A Sugar tong splint was given which was to be removed after 5 days and Air Cast splint was advised to be worn after 5 days. The patient was treated as per standards. Therefore, the Complainant was not entitled for any compensation and/or refund of previous treatment expenditure. The claim of Complainant was imaginary and highly exaggerated, the written statement said.
The District Forum then partly allowed the complaint and directed the Petitioner Hospital to pay Rs. 1,00,000/- as compensation and Rs. 10,000/- towards the cost of legal proceedings to the Complainant.
Being aggrieved from the order passed by the District Forum, the petitioner approached the State Commission . The State Commission dismissed the appeal with costs of Rs. 25,000/- on the Petitioner with modification of the Order of District Forum that the Hospital was directed to pay Rs. 3,51,000/- to the Complainant within one month from the date of the order failing which, the amount was to carry interest at the rate of 9% per anum. Being still aggrieved, the Petitioner approached the NCDRC.
Dr. SM Kantikar, the Presiding Member of NCDRC , after hearing the arguments from both the sides, said, State Commission has recorded the concurrent finding of fact and passed a well-appraised reasoned Order. The revisional powers of the National Commission are derived from Section 21 (b) of the Act, and have been discussed by the Supreme Court in its various judgements.
“The Supreme Court laid down the ingredients of medical negligence in its various judgments, none of which are found in the instant case. In my view, prima-facie, this case does not fall strictly in medical negligence”, held the Commission .
It is noted by the Presiding Officer that the Wheelchairs are usually thought of as a medical device that is meant to help those who are injured or have physical challenges; they can also be a source of injury when not properly used. Most wheelchair injuries that happen in a medical setting due to the negligence of medical staff and such could be easily prevented by hospital or nursing home.
The Commission is of the view that the Hospital authority should make systemic improvement in their administration and their grievance redressal mechanism to ensure the patient’s safety and to maintain good Doctor-Patient relationship.
“In the instant case, having regard to the fact that the patient underwent mental agony and physical trauma and the quantum of award made by the State Commission appears just and equitable in the facts of the case. No palpable crucial error in appreciating the evidence by the two fora below, as may cause to require de novo re-appreciation in revision, is visible. No jurisdictional error, or legal principle ignored, or miscarriage of justice, is visible. Nothing warrants interference with the Order of the State Commission in the exercise of the revisional jurisdiction of this Commission.Based on the forgoing discussion, the Revision Petition is dismissed”, the order reads./ILNS/SNG