Where Patient Is Critical, Higher Duty Of Care Is Expected From The ICU Staff: NCDRC






Case Detail: Medical Superintendent, Mata Chanan Devi Hospital v Sunita Saxena

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission while dismissing the appeal of the medical superintendent held that where the patient is critical, higher duty of care is expected from the ICU staff and upheld the decision of the state commission directing the hospital to pay Rs. 10 Lakhs as compensation along with an interest at 9% p.a.

According to the complainant, she suffered vomiting and general malaise due to which she was first taken to the DDU hospital and was thereafter admitted to Mata Chanan Devi Hospital where Dr. Jain examined her at the emergency ward, at the time of examination she already him that she is a diabetic patient and the status of her diabetes in the last 5 years but the doctor to put the patient on glucose drip instead of saline. On further deterioration of her condition, she was shifted to ICCU where she suffered respiratory arrest, she was intubated and put on ventilator. Thereafter, her both hands were tied to the bed which allegedly led to impaired circulation in hands resulting in gangrene of the left hand whereafter she was shifted to Apollo Hospital where the clinical notes mention gangrene from the left hand to the left wrist and Chronic compression of blood flow. The doctors at Apollo Hospital advised the treatment of gangrene by the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is very expensive but finally amputation was done.

The complainant filed a case against the hospital for medical negligence before the State Commission, Delhi wherein the state commission directed the hospital to pay compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs and sent an order copy to the Medical Council of India to initiate proper action against the concerned doctors at the hospital .

Being aggrieved with the said, the hospital preferred an appeal before the NCDRC for setting aside the order passed by the state commission and the complainant filed an appeal for enhancement of the compensation awarded by the state commission.

After looking to the facts and evidence on record, it held that the doctors did not issue discharge summary, which is a deficiency on the part of the Hospital and also it did not issue the discharge certificate at the time of referring to the Apollo Hospital.

The bench observed “It went unnoticed and unmonitored throughout the night by the ICU staff, it amounts to failure of duty of care. The higher duty of care was expected from the ICU staff as such the instant patient was critical.”

Further, it also held that “From the medical record, it is evident that proper doses of insulin were given and the doctors efficiently managed the critical condition of the patient. However, she developed gangrene of fingers in left hand during her ICU stay. The possibility of such gangrene was due to compromised state of the patient (diabetic, ketones and generalized infection – septicemia). But the evidence of patient’s husband about tying the hands cannot be brushed aside. It was the onus upon the OP to explain the cause of gangrene, but failed to prove.”

Story Update By: Ms. Sai Sushmitha, Correspondent at Lawgic.

Edited By: Ms. Nandini Nair, Content Head at Lawgic.

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