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Consumer is King – `Treatment sans diagnosis is medical negligence’

Jehangir B Gai

 

 

Bimla Rani was suffering from high fever, nausea and vomiting. The next day she was taken to Dr Anil Aggar wal who administered an in jection and gave some medicines. As the fever persisted even after three days, the patient visited the clinic again. This time the doctor administered two injections. Within 24 hours the patient developed severe pain and inflammation on her left arm. She was taken to the doctor who stated that this was due to “strong injections“ and assured that it would subside after a few hours. But the inflammation increased. Rani was again taken to the doctor , who found that her condition had deteriorated. So he advised hospitalization.She was taken to Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where she was found to be suffering from gas gangrene, and was admitted in the surgical emergency ward. An attempt was made to curtail the infection through a minor surgery to remove some infected tissues, muscles and skin from her left arm.As this did not help, in order to save her life, her left arm was amputated on September 23,1996. Despite all efforts, Rani’s condition did not improve and she expired on September 25, 1996.

Rani’s husband Hardwari Lal filed an FIR against Dr Aggarwal. A postmortem was conducted, but no definite opinion was given about the cause of death. Lal filed a complaint against Dr Aggarwal before the Delhi State Commission, alleging that his 40-year-old wife had died due to administering of injections using infected syringes, needles and swabs. He sought compensation for her death, and for the loss of income she earned.

The doctor contested the case. He sta ted that when Rani was brought on September 14,1996, she was suffering from fever for one day. He claimed that the injections were given at the patient’s behest as she wanted quick relief. He stated that he had used a disposable syringe and needle, and had administered the injections after cleaning the site with a cotton swab soaked in antiseptic solution. It was only when the patient was brought on Septemmber 21,1996, that he observed rashes on her body and other indications to suspect dengue, so he advised hospitalization for specialized treatment. After that Rani was treated at Lohia Hospital for 4 to 5 days. So Dr. Aggarwal argued that he could not be held solely liable for Rani’s death. Besides, Rani was also a diabetic.

The state commission considered the evidence, and observed that an injection resulting in gas gangrene leads to an inference that the syringe or needle was not sterile.Terming this to be a limited deficiency , it awarded Rs 50,000 as lumpsum compensation. Both parties challenged this order in appeal.

The National Commission observed that an error of clinical judgment would not constitute negligence. A proper diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment, since incorrect medications could have devastating consequences. The commission indicted Dr Aggarwal for being negligent as he had omitted to record the patient’s medical history or arrive at a provisional diagnosis.

The commission observed that it would be unnecessary to consider whether gas gangrene was caused due to negligence in administering the injections.

Accordingly , by its order of May 25 the National Commission enhanced the compensation to Rs 4 lakh. It granted six week’s time for compliance of the order, and if delayed, the enhanced amount of Rs 3.5 lakh would carry interest at 6% p.a. from the date of the complaint. since incorrect medications could have devastating consequences. The commission indicted Dr Aggarwal for being negligent as he had omitted to record the patient’s medical history or arrive at a provisional diagnosis.

The commission observed that it would be unnecessary to consider whether gas gangrene was caused due to negligence in administering the injections.

Accordingly , by its order of May 25 the National Commission enhanced the compensation to Rs 4 lakh. It granted six week’s time for compliance of the order, and if delayed, the enhanced amount of Rs 3.5 lakh would carry interest at 6% p.a. from the date of the complaint.

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?eid=31804&dt=20170529

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Comment (1)

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    The doctors should diagnise patients properly and administer the doses that are sufficient to cure. But, complicating by giving ovrrdose and causing death must be punished

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