New Delhi: Twenty-three years after being operated on the wrong side for a hernia in a Chennai hospital, a 29-year-old man has been awarded Rs.1 lakh by a top consumer court that asked the private facility to compensate him for the "unnecessary suffering and agony".
Holding out some relief for Javeed, who was only six when the 'wrong' operation took place, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held C.S.I. Rainy Hospital guilty of medical negligence. It said in a recent ruling that the hospital "is directed to pay Javeed Rs.1 lakh as compensation for the unnecessary suffering and agony caused to him and his family".
Commission President Ashok Bhan and Member Vineeta Rai gave the hospital time till March 31 to pay the compensation to Javeed, a resident of the Tiruvottiyur area in Chennai.
"The facts clearly indicate that the required reasonable degree of care and caution was not taken by the hospital's doctors in the treatment of Javeed and, thus, the hospital was guilty of medical negligence, for which he should justifiably be compensated," the commission president said.
Javeed said in his complaint that he was admitted to the hospital with a complaint of temporary inguinal hernia and was operated upon Aug 12, 1989 after diagnostic tests.
During a follow-up visit, he said, a doctor at the hospital told him that he would have to go under the knife once again as he had been operated for left inguinal hernia and hernitomy instead of being operated on the right side.
The commission ruled: "What constitutes medical negligence is now well settled through a number of judgments of this commission as also of the Supreme Court...one of the principles to test medical negligence is whether a doctor exercised a reasonable degree of care and caution in treating a patient."
The top consumer court dismissed the hospital's defence that the patient's ailment was such that it required two successive surgeries on both the left and right sides and that the doctors informed his family that they would first attend to the left portion.
"The hospital has not been able to produce any evidence that Javeed's parents were informed that he was suffering with bilateral herniatomy or that just prior to the surgery they were informed that the surgery would be conducted on the left side and not on the right side," the commission said.
The national commission accepted Javeed's appeal against a Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission decision that gave a clean chit to the hospital.
Bhan said: "We are unable to agree with the finding of the state commission that as per the evidence on record there was no medical negligence in the treatment of Javeed."
"Clearly, Javeed was diagnosed for conducting a surgery on the right inguinal herniatomy...whereas this surgery was conducted on the left side without any evidence that it was this side which required it," said the national commission, slamming the hospital.
Dismissing the hospital's plea, Bhan said: "Had the hospital advised the patient's parents that he had bilateral herniatomy (which required surgery on both right and left side), then perhaps there would be some case for the hospital to explain how the surgery was conducted on the left side."
(Rahul Chhabra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)