NCDRC Asks Batra Hospital To Pay Rs10 Lakh Compensation To Widow of Deceased
Moneylife Digital Team 14 February 2023
While upholding an order passed by the state commission, the National consumer dispute redressal commission (NCDRC) asked Delhi-based Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre to pay Rs10 lakh compensation with an interest of 7% to the widow of the deceased patient. The state commission, in its order, had stated that the hospital had something to hide since it did not provide electrophysiological study (EPS) and electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) reports to the expert panel. 
 
In the order issued last week, the bench of Dinesh Singh (presiding member) and justice Karuna Nand Bajpayee (member) says, "…the appeal is disposed of with the directions that for the deficiency in service and the unfair trade practice in suppressing the ECG traces report and in not taking proper informed consent, the hospital shall pay an amount of Rs10 lakh to the complainant with interest at the rate of 7% per annum from the date of institution of the complaint till actual realisation."
 
Dilip Kumar Goswami, the husband of Jyoti, had filed the case before the Delhi state consumer commission, alleging that the hospital carried out the procedure of RFA without disclosing to him and taking into consideration the report of the EPS and it was done without his knowledge or consent under the guise of EPS. He also alleged other options for treatment which were less risky and less life-threatening were not considered before taking up RFA.
 
"In the process of undertaking RFA, a heart block was caused. The temporary pacemaker was implanted carelessly, and it pierced the heart. Thereafter, the permanent pacemaker was also implanted without diligence; the pacemaker, which per se became necessitated because of the negligence during the RFA in the first place, too malfunctioned, causing further damage to the heart and also necessitating another surgery for its rectification," Mr Goswami had alleged. 
 
During the hearing, the state commission referred the matter for expert opinion to Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi. A board of doctors comprising of a professor in cardiology, a professor in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery (CTVS) and a professor in medicine concluded that "there seem to be no negligence from Batra Hospital and/or the attending doctors anytime during the entire course of treatment and operation of the petitioner".          
 
However, the panel also observed that "the documentation would have been more adequate if we were provided with EPS and ECG traces; the EPS-RFA trace provided to us vide letter (3027-30) dated 16-02-2012 is actually a fluoroscopic image and not an EPS trace".
 
The state commission did not find reasonable grounds to determine negligence or deficiency on the part of the hospital or doctors who treated Mr Goswami. It, however, noted that the hospital failed to place on record ECG trace reports as called for by the experts. It held the hospital deficient in service and ordered it to pay compensation of Rs10 lakh with interest at the rate of 7% per annum.
 
Batra Hospital challenged this order before the NCDRC. After hearing both sides, the bench noted that there is no explanation in respect of the ECG strips report not being supplied for the experts in Maulana Azad Medical College and the absence of which has not been satisfactorily explained either before the state commission or even before the NCDRC. "This is clearly a deficient as well as deceptive and unfair act, more so when it is the hospital's own case that this was a case of 'Wolff Parkinson's white syndrome (WPW) syndrome (diagnosed by ECG changes)' as written at various places in its written version."
 
The bench also found that on the consent form of Batra Hospital, space was provided for obtaining the patient and witness' signatures. However, no space was provided for the signatures and details of the doctor(s) who took the consent. 
 
The counsel for Batra Hospital assured the bench that the hospital will re-visit its pre-printed consent forms and make sure that there is an assigned place for the signatures and identification of the doctor taking the consent. 
 
The counsel also admitted that the patent lapse in respect of consent necessitates compensation. He submitted that the hospital would pay the compensation of Rs10 lakh with interest at the rate of 7% as awarded by the state commission. He, however, requested that the penal interest of 12% imposed by the state commission may be dispensed.
 
NCDRC accepted the submission and asked Batra Hospital to pay within eight weeks Rs10 lakh compensation to Jyoti Goswami, the complainant's wife, with an interest of 7% per annum. 
 
(First Appeal No1766 of 2018    Date: 7 February 2023)
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