Mata Chanan Devi Hospital Asked To Pay Rs10 Lakh Compensation in 22-year Old Case
Moneylife Digital Team 13 February 2023
National consumer dispute redressal commission (NCDRC), while dismissing counter-petitions, directed Delhi-based Mata Chanan Devi Hospital to pay Rs10 lakh compensation, as ordered by the state commission. The Hospital and Sunita Saxena, the patient, had filed counter-petitions before NCDRC. 
 
In an order issued last week, Dr SN Kanitkar, presiding member of NCDRC says, "I find there was a failure of duty of care from the intensive care unit (ICU) staff in the Hospital. The order of the state commission is reasoned and awarded just and adequate compensation to the complainant. I do not find any reason to enhance the compensation. Both the appeals, being devoid of merit, are dismissed."
 
Mata Chanan Devi Hospital has challenged the order passed by the state commission, while Ms Saxena had filed a counter-petition to enhance the compensation to Rs50 lakh from Rs10 lakh. 
 
On 29 March 2001, Ms Saxena was admitted to the Hospital with a critical condition due to her high sugar levels. Dr Dharmesh Jain from the Hospital examined her in the emergency ward. It was alleged that she informed the doctor about her diabetic status for four to five years, but he advised putting her on a glucose drip instead of saline.
 
The complaint filed by Ms Saxena alleges, "Her condition further deteriorated. She became restless and was feeling breathless. On inquiry why the glucose was given though the patient had diabetes, the doctor kept silent. The patient became pale when the blood glucose level jumped to 465 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL). The Hospital did not make any attempt to reduce blood sugar level." 
 
"The family members were not allowed to meet the patient. At about 2pm, the patient was shifted to ICCU. The X-ray taken showed features of broncho-pneumonia. The patient suffered respiratory arrest at 5pm. She was intubated and put on a ventilator. It was alleged that the ventilator was old and noisy. Dr Sudhir Chhabra, who visited the patient in ICU, advised Dr Jain to tie Ms Saxena's hands with the bandage to the bed's fence to avoid her pulling the urinary tube. Her hands were tied to the bed from 2pm till the next early morning, which led to swelling and impaired circulation in the hands. It resulted in gangrene of the left hand," the complaint says.
 
Ms Saxena was then shifted to Apollo Hospital, where she was admitted for 15 days. For 10 days, Dr Chacko, the senior vascular surgeon, advised Hyperbaric therapy because of reactivated the dead fingers. This facility was available only at Apollo Hospital.
 
After that, Ms Saxena consulted Dr VK Tiwari, a senior plastic surgeon at Safdarjung Hospital. The doctors tried their level best to save the fingers of the left hand, but due to serious danger to the life of the patient, amputation was carried out by Dr Tiwari on 24 April 2001, NCDRC noted. 
 
The bench of Dr Kanitkar says, "Adverting to the issue of development of gangrene of fingers of left hand in the instant case, it is pertinent to note that the Vinod Kumar Saxena, in his affidavit of evidence, stated that at the time of discharge, Dr Chhabra did not disclose that the patient was suffering from gangrene because of wrong instructions, i.e. tying of hand. Even the medical superintendent Dr  Kochhar was reluctant to allow the patient to go to Apollo Hospital as it would have exposed their wrong treatment and gross negligence. This evidence was not rebutted by the Hospital."
 
The bench also noted that have not issued a discharge summary, which it felt is a deficiency on the part of the Hospital. The Hospital did not give the discharge certificate while referring Ms Saxena to the Apollo Hospital.
 
"I have carefully perused the discharge summary of the Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. One of the diagnoses made was 'ischemic necrosis – left hand'. She was admitted to ICU. During hospitalisation, she was examined by a respiratory consultant, endocrinologist and vascular surgeon. It was also recorded that: "she on admission was also found to have gangrene of left hand possibly as a result of long term compression of blood flow because of venous edema."
 
"On a bare reading of the findings of Apollo Hospital, the inference can be drawn that the gangrene was developed due to tight tying of the hands the whole night on 29 April 2001. It went unnoticed and unmonitored throughout the night by the ICU staff, it amounts to a failure of duty of care. The higher duty of care was expected from the ICU staff as such, the instant patient was critical," Dr Kanitkar noted. 
 
He then directed Mata Chanan Devi Hospital to pay Rs10 lakh compensation to Ms Saxena. 
 
(First Appeal No612 OF 2012 & 268 OF 2013  Date: 10 February 2023)
 
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