Whether non-referral of patient to Specialist or higher centre amounts to deficiency in service or medical negligence of the treating doctor/hospital? NCDRC decides

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Justice R.K. Agarwal (President) and Dr S.M. Kantikar and Binoy Kumar (Members) decided a matter with regard to alleged medical negligence.

Issue for Consideration:

Whether non-referral of the patient to the Specialist or higher centre amounts to deficiency in service or medical negligence of the treating doctor/hospital?

Complainants Case

The complainant’s case was that their son Rahul (since deceased, referred to as the “patient”) about 17 years of age was hit by the train while crossing the railway track. It was alleged that the doctors did not carefully attend to the fatal head injuries. The Neurosurgeon was not available in the hospital and the patient was not referred to the higher centre. Ultimately, the patient died.

OPs denied negligence during treatment, and they treated the patient with all precautions.

On being aggrieved by the alleged carelessness, deficiency in service and medical negligence causing the death of Rahul, the complainants filed the consumer complaint before the District Forum.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Commission noted that the deceased had sustained grievous injuries due to hit by the train. Immediately after conducting relevant investigations and X-rays, he was shifted to the ICU and was kept under observation.

On perusal of the facts and circumstances of the present matter, Coram opined that the patient was evaluated by specialist doctors and was treated as per their reasonable skills and standard of practice.

Commission did not find any failure of duty of care or negligence from the OPs to refer the patient at higher centre, because it was a serious accident, and the patient was in critical stage.

It was held that the doctors took the required care as under the standard of practice to deal with the emergency situation.

Lastly, it was concluded stating that the patient was critical and unless his condition gets stabilized, shifting the patient to a higher center as not advisable. Hence, no deficiency in treatment was found by the treating doctors.

No merit was found in the revision petition. [Malhe Ram v. Jeevan Jyoti Hospital, 2021 SCC OnLine NCDRC 416, decided on 13-12-2021]


Advocates before the Commission:

 For the Petitioners: Mr. Naresh Kumar Gupta, Advocate

For the Respondent 2 – 4: Mr. Navin Kumar, Advocate

For the Respondent 5: Mr. Anand Vardhan, Advocate

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