Indraprashta Apollo Hospital and its doctor directed to pay Rs. 1 crore compensation in a case of medical negligence

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): “The corporate hospitals and specialists, as might be expected, must perform at a higher level than other hospitals/general practitioners. They, after all, represent themselves as possessing highest standard facilities and care; also possess superior skills and additional training. The hospital charges and the doctor’s fees normally reflect this,” held NCDRC while holding the attending gynecologist and Indraprashta Apollo Hospital guilty of medical negligence and directing them to pay Rs 1 crore in compensation. This judgment was pronounced in a complaint filed by a couple, whose baby suffered mental disability due to “negligence” of the doctor at the time of delivery. The woman, who conceived after several years of infertility treatments, was admitted to Apollo hospital for delivery in June 1999. As a result of “substandard care during labour”, the child suffered birth asphyxia resulting in cerebral palsy due to negligence at the time of birth. As the baby developed complications two months later, the parents took her to AIIMS where EEG and CT scan revealed that she was severally affected by atrophy of brain. The disability board of AIIMS, certified that the baby was suffering from 95% disability. Alleging medical negligence the couple approached NCDRC in 2002. The child, who underwent treatment for multiple health problems at several hospitals, including AIIMS, died at the age of 12 years, on January 15, 2012. After perusing the relevant documents and medical records of the mother and child, Commission found the attending gynecologist and Indraprashta Apollo Hospital guilty of medical negligence and noted, “Substandard care to the patient during labour resulted poor outcome despite using modern technology of cardiography (CTG). Inability to interpret the CTG trace, i.e., poor pattern recognition, failure to correlate to the pathophysiology that causes the CTG changes, not taking into consideration the clinical situation that may suggest foetal distress and delay in taking appropriate action due to poor communication and team work were reasons for the poor outcome.” While fixing total compensation of Rs 1 crore, the Commission clarified that out of the total compensation Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, would pay Rs 80 lakh and the gynecologist would pay Rs 20 lakh to the complainant. During the course of proceedings, the Commission also found that the hospital had filed “tampered” medical records of the mother’s treatment, hence, punitive cost of Rs 10 lakh was also imposed on Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, which was directed to be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account, NCDRC. (Indu Sharma v. Indraprashta Apollo Hospital, 2015 SCC OnLine NCDRC 11, decided on April 22, 2015)

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