National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission

National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission: In the matter of two appeals against the order of Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) granting compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to the patient for failure of duty of care by the medical staff, the Presiding Member, Dr. S.M. Kantikar dismissed both the appeals, finding the award just with adequate compensation. One of the appeals in the instant matter sought for setting aside the order of the SCDRC by the hospital, while the other one sought enhancement of compensation to Rs 50 lakhs by the patient.

In the instance matter, the patient was a known case of diabetes mellitus, admitted in the outpatient (‘OP’) hospital on 29-03-2001 after suffering vomiting and general malaise, and got discharged, against medical advice the next day. She stayed there only for 24 hours, and her condition was critical during this period. It was alleged that the hands of the patient were tied to the bed to avoid pulling of urinary tube from midnight till early next morning, which led to swelling and impaired circulation in hands.

At the time of admission at Apollo Hospital, the patient was found to have gangrene of left hand up to wrist joint, possibly as a result of long-term compression of blood flow. After a few days of treatment, the fingers of the left hand were amputated due to danger to the patient’s life. The disability certificate issued by Safdarjung Hospital reflected permanent disability at 55%. Being aggrieved by the medical negligence of the doctors at OP hospital, the complaint was filed before the SCDRC, Delhi, which directed the OP hospital to pay Rs 10 lakhs compensation. The same has been appealed in the instant matter wherein, the hospital seeks setting aside of the order, while the patient seeks enhancement of the compensation from Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 50 lakhs.

NCDRC in the instant matter did not accept the patient’s contention that the doctors did not take steps to reduce blood sugar levels of the patient. The Commission observed that it is evident from the medical record that proper doses of insulin were given, and the doctors efficiently managed the critical condition of the patient.

The Commission noted that the patient developed gangrene of fingers in her left hand during her stay in the ICU, possibly due to compromised state of the patient. However, NCDRC also noted in this regard that the evidence by patient’s husband about tying the hands cannot be brushed aside. The Court observed that the onus to explain the cause of gangrene fell upon the OP, who failed to prove anything in this regard.

Thus, the Commission found that there was a failure of duty of care on part of the ICU staff in the OP hospital. It upheld the order of the SCDRC being reasoned for awarding just and adequate compensation to the patient and refusing to enhance the compensation. Hence, both the appeals were dismissed by NCDRC being devoid of merit.

[Medical Superintendent, Mata Chanan Devi Hospital v. Sunita Saxena, 2023 SCC OnLine NCDRC 47, decided on 10-02-2023]

Order authored by: Dr. S.M. Kantikar.

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Appellant: Advocate S.C. Buttan;

For Respondent: Advocate Aditya Goel.

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