Lesser success rate in medical practise doesn’t mean that doctor was negligent

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The Commission recently addressed an appeal of a 35 years old woman whose one of the fallopian tubes was removed by a doctor who had assured her that she had again chance of pregnancy. The patient underwent several laboratory investigations was declared to be fit for IN Vitro fertilization (IVF) after all investigations, the estimated cost for which was 65,000-70,000 Rupees.

While performing the procedure, the complainant was informed that she has developed infection, but there were 50 per cent chances of success and later on, pregnancy test resulted to be negative. In her complaint, she had alleged that she suffered irreparable loss and permanently lost her chance of future pregnancy and she had also suffered severe mental shock and depression. She alleged it was one by the doctor intentionally because she even had the knowledge that it could be a failure.

The opposite party retaliated to the allegations stating that doctor is a senior consultant , had been working in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital since 1988, served as medical superintendent of hospital for 20 years and in 1989 established the first IVF centre of North India in the Gangaram Hospital. She had experience of work in the UK and USA for five years.

The Commission considered the stance of the respondents that as per medical science, the success rate of IVF is only 1/3rd taking reference from Text Book of Assisted Reproduction Techniques (4 Edition) by David K Gardener, some research articles from the journals like Human Reproduction-Update, Fertility and Sterility. The Bench comprising of Ajit Bharihoke and Dr. SM Kantikar, JJ. observed that IVF is a complicated procedure involving various steps – ovulation, induction, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, fertilization and embryo transfer. For this, the Commission said, no doctor or hospital can give assurances.

In the instant case, the Commission noted that all necessary steps were taken by the doctor and the case of complainant was properly investigated and in any given chances, the success rate of IVF would vary depending on one’s age and personal health circumstances. Thus, it was held that thereis no negligence on part of the petitioner. Accordingly, fine of 15 lacs on petitioner was set aside by the commission [Dr. M Kochar v. Ipsita Seal, FIRST APPEAL NO. 368 OF 2011, decided on 12.12.2017]

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