The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) exonerated a Cardiologist and Manipur based hospital from charges of medical negligence while implanting pacemaker on a patient suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease.
Although the District and State Commission had held them guilty and directed them to pay Rs 5, 90,000 to the Complainants, the top consumer court noted that both the fora had failed to consider the medical grounds and erred to hold the Petitioners liable for medical negligence.
“The patient died due to her severe was already suffering from several fatal comorbidities. The patient was treated in the ICU with reasonable duty of care by the team of doctors including cardiologist and nephrologist. It was held that they did not find any deficiency or medical negligence from the hospital and treating doctor,” noted the Commission in its order.
The matter concerns alleged medical negligence in the implantation of pacemaker. Back in 2012 the patient, who had been suffering from renal disease approached Shija Hospital after she developed breathing difficulties. Immediately, the patient had been shifted to ICU and she had been examined by, the Professor and Head of Cardiovascular and thoracic Department of RIMS Hospital. Doctor implanted temporary pacemaker and on the same day the doctor performed haemodialysis on the patient. Since the patient’s condition improved, the temporary pacemaker had been removed with the consent of the patient. However, after its removal, the patient became serious again and therefore, Doctor advised for re-implantation of permanent pacemaker after one or two days.
Accordingly, the permanent pacemaker was fixed on 25.03.2012 and it was assured by the doctor that the pacemaker would last for 10 years and the patient would be able to survive at least two or three years. However, the condition of the patient did not improve and she developed a number of complications such as difficulties in breathing, fluid in chest and non-healing of stitches etc.
The complainants alleged that Doctor had not satisfactorily clarified about such complications and ultimately the patient died 9 days after the implantation of the permanent pacemaker. When the complainants approached the District Forum, their appeal was allowed and the consumer court had directed Dr Singh and Shija Hospital to pay jointly and severely Rs.5,90,000 to the Complainants. Aggrieved by this order, the doctor and hospital had approached the State Commission, which dismissed their appeal and confirmed the order of the District Commission. Therefore, they approached the NCDRC bench. After considering the arguments made by the counsel for both the parties, the top consumer court also perused the entire medical record and order of the District and State Consumer Court.
The Commission noted that the patient was elderly, around 75 years of age and had been admitted to the Hospital for the treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD-V), complete heart block, type-II diabetes. For CKD-V, she was regularly undergoing dialysis. Due to cardiac problem, Dr. Singh, the cardiologist implanted temporary pacemaker which showed improvement and therefore, it was replaced by permanent pacemaker on 25.03.2012.
Referring to the medical record, the Commission noted, “It should be borne in mind that after the treatment, no doctor shall assure or guarantee about the life expectancy of patient. Even the Complainant failed to produce evidence to prove that the pacemaker was defective. As per medical literature, pacemakers are supportive in the therapy for the conductivity of the heart.
“At this outset, the top consumer court referred to the Supreme Court order in the case of Jacob Mathew, where the top court had observed that “To hold in favour of existence of negligence, associated with the action or inaction of a medical professional, requires an in-depth understanding of the working of a professional as also the nature of the job and of errors committed by chance, which do not necessarily involve the element of culpability.” Referring to this, the NCDRC bench observed that in this case, “The patient died due to her severe was already suffering from several fatal comorbidities. The patient was treated in the ICU with reasonable duty of care by the team of doctors including cardiologist and nephrologist. We do not find any deficiency or medical negligence from the hospital and treating doctor.”