Compensation of Rs 10 lakh imposed upon a Chennai Hospital for negligence in treatment

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): While holding guilty of negligence in treatment provided by Madras Medical Mission Hospital, NCDRC imposed a compensation of Rs 10 lakh upon the hospital along with Rs 25,000 as cost of litigation. The Commission found that the Hospital was negligent in attending to a patient who suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen, and subsequently died. Said order was passed by the Commission while hearing a complaint filed by wife and daughter of the patient.

Earlier, the patient had undergone a coronary artery bypass graft surgery at Madras Medical Mission Hospital and was shifted to ICU later. It was alleged in the complaint that the patient was not connected to a pulse oximeter, which was necessary to monitor the oxygen saturation level. The complainants also alleged that the patient developed respiratory problem on account of negligence during the post-operative stage as on several occasions, the complainants found the ICU to be without doctors and even the nursing staff was inadequate. The Hospital in turn had denied all the allegations before the Commission and contended that pulse oximeter saturation arterial blood gases and other hemodynamic parameters were continuously monitored in the ICU and documented on the ICU charts.

After perusing the material on record, Commission observed that there was no evidence of a pulse oximeter having actually been connected the patient during his stay in the ICU of the hospital and no such endorsement was also found on the medical record, relating to his treatment in the ICU. “I have no hesitation in holding that late Dr. Paul was not continuously connected to a pulse oximeter though his saturation levels were being monitored and recorded on hourly basis. To this extent, Opposite Party  1 was negligent in rendering services to the patient, during his stay in the ICU of the hospital” noted the Commission. While holding the Hospital responsible for deficiency in services, Commission noted, “The Madras Medical Mission is directed to pay compensation quantified at Rs.10,00,000/- to Complainants  2 to 6, along with the cost of litigation quantified at Rs. 25,000. The amount of compensation shall also carry interest @ 9% per annum from the date of filing the complaint, till the date of payment.” [Consumer Education Research Society v. Madras Medical Mission, 2016 SCC OnLine NCDRC 1452, decided on October 7, 2016]

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