Can Wheelchair injuries be covered under the ambit of medical negligence? NCDRC answers

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Dr S.M. Kantikar (Presiding Member) decided a matter wherein a question of whether wheelchair injuries would fall under the ambit of medical negligence or not.

In the present matter, complainant – patient came to Petitioner/OP-Hospital for follow-up check-up after her spinal surgery. It was alleged that she was very rashly and negligently wheeled from the hospital corridor, on the ramp by an unidentified security guard without putting seat belt, as a result of which she suffered ‘head-on fall’ from the wheelchair and sustained a fracture.

Further, the complainant alleged that she was not given immediate first aid and was made to stand in the queue for payment of X-Ray charges resulting to further pain and agony.

Hospital authorities were made aware of the said incident but they willfully ignored the same. Complainant submitted that it was gross negligence & deficiency in service from the supportive staff at the hospital. Being aggrieved by the negligent care and conduct of the Opposite Party, she filed the Consumer Complaint.

District forum had directed petitioner hospital to pay Rs 1,00,000 as compensation and Rs 10,000 towards the cost of legal proceedings.

State Commission dismissed the petitioner’s appeal with Rs 25,000 costs and further directing the hospital to pay Rs 3,51,000 compensation to the complainant.

Being aggrieved with the above orders, petitioner hospital approached this Commission.

In Commission’s view, the State Commission had passed a well-appraised reasoned order.

Coram opined that the present matter, prima facie does not fall strictly in medical negligence. Further elaborating more, Commission expressed that,

Wheelchairs are usually thought of 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 a hospital or nursing home.

Further, Bench added that hospital authorities should make systemic improvements in their administration and their grievance redressal mechanism to ensure the patient’s safety and to maintain a good Doctor-Patient relationship.

In view of the above discussion, Commission held that nothing warrants interference with the impugned order of the State Commission in the exercise of the revisional jurisdiction of this Commission.[P.D. Hinduja National Hospital & Medical Research Centre v. Harsh Ashok Lal, 2021 SCC OnLine NCDRC 194, decided on 8-07-2021]


Advocates before the Commission:

For the Petitioner: Mr. Shekhar B. Prabhavalkar, Advocate

For the Respondent: In-person

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