“The subject of negligence in the context of medical profession necessarily calls for treatment with a difference.”
-CJ R.C. Lahoti (as he then was)
Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Abhay Manohar Sapre and Vineet Saran, JJ. in a case of “medical negligence” as alleged by the respondents in the present case allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order passed by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission on no merits being laid down in favour of alleged medical negligence.
The present appeal was filed in consequence of the impugned order passed by the National Commission. The facts and points to be noted in the present case were that the appellant was a doctor with expertise in gall bladder surgery and he was alleged by Respondent 1 to have conducted a gall bladder surgery on Respondent 1 without her consent, which she had claimed to be given only for Laparoscopic surgery. On the grounds as mentioned above, Respondent 1 approached the State Commission claiming negligence on the part of the appellant as right after the year 1996, in 1997, the respondent had to get admitted to a hospital in Delhi and suffered from various other ailments which occurred due to the negligence on the part of appellant giving reference to the conventional gall bladder surgery which she had not agreed to. On refusal of any compensation from the State Commission, Respondent 1 approached the National Commission which awarded her compensation setting aside the State Commission’s order.
The above-stated matrix of contentions and a brief history of the present case led the appellant to file an appeal by special leave to appeal.
The Supreme Court, on perusal of the facts, evidence and placing reliance on the Bolam’s Test as suggested in the case of Bolam v. Friern Hospital Management Committee,  1 WLR 582, in which it was held that a “physician would not assure the patient of full recovery in every case. A surgeon cannot and does not guarantee that the result of surgery would invariably be beneficial, much less to the extent of 100% for the person operated on.”; the Apex Court concluded its decision while briefing out some important pointers of the case in order to deliver justice and clarity to comprehend the concept of medical negligence.
Therefore, the Court stated that the appellant-doctor was a qualified senior doctor with requisite knowledge and skill to perform the surgery of gall bladder. The said step of conducting the gall bladder surgery while conducting the laparoscopic surgery was taken due to the condition observed while doing the latter. On the occurrence of such emergent situation, the appellant took the consent of the Respondent 1’s husband on explaining him the whole situation. Further, the Court observed that Clause 4 of the Consent Form which was duly signed by Respondent 1, empowered the doctor to perform additional operation or procedure in the event of emergency.
Hence, it was not an unauthorized act of the appellant and he could legally perform on the basis of above-mentioned Clause 4 of the Consent Form on which Respondent 1 had duly signed. Adding to the above opinion of the Bench, it also stated that no medical evidence of any expert was adduced to prove the allegation of negligence by Respondent 1. The appeal was allowed by restoring the State Commission’s order and setting aside the National Commission’s order on finding no merits in their decision. [S.K. Jhunjhunwala v. Dhanwanti Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1721, decided on 01-10-2018]