IA No. 7668 of 2016 (Application for condonation of delay)
For the reasons stated in the Application, the delay of 32 days in filing the Revision Petition is condoned.
The Application stands disposed of.
Challenge in this Revision Petition, under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (for short “the Act”), by the Complainant, is to the order dated 10.03.2016, passed by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Chandigarh (for short “the State Commission”) in First Appeal No. 1577 of 2012. By the impugned order, while upholding the order dated 12.10.2012, passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Jalandhar (for short “the District Forum”) in Complaint Case No. 223 of 2011, whereby the Complaint, preferred by the Petitioner/Complainant, alleging medical negligence on the part of the Opposite Parties in rendering treatment to his wife, Smt. Sudesh Rani (for short “the Patient”), had been dismissed, the State Commission has dismissed the Appeal, preferred by the Petitioner/Complainant, on the ground that he was not able to prove any negligence in the treatment rendered by the Opposite Parties/Respondents.
The facts material to the case are that the Patient fell ill on 11.11.2010 and was taken to first Opposite Party/Hospital for treatment in the evening. It was averred that the Patient was admitted in the ICU of the said Hospital and certain tests were advised on 12.11.2010, for which an amount of ₹1900/- was charged. After going through the test reports, neither the Hospital nor the Treating Doctor, i.e. second Opposite Party, informed the Complainant about the results of the said reports and also not given any diagnosis of the disease, which the Patient was suffering from. It was pleaded that the Complainant had requested the doctors on duty to inform him about the details of the ailment from which the Patient was suffering but his request was not heeded to. It was stated that the nurses and the doctors on duty did not attempt to change the empty glucose bottle and the Complainant, who is handicapped, had to run from pillar to post to call for the assistance of the staff and the nurses. On the afternoon of 12.11.2010 the Complainant and the Patient were pushed out from the Hospital by the Administration officers and it was averred that they were treated in an inhuman manner. It was also stated that a request was made for arranging an ambulance and medical facility for the Patient, who was in a serious condition, and this was flatly refused. Then the ambulance was arranged by the Complainant himself at his own expenses but on the way the Patient passed away. The Complainant further stated that the Patient was not properly diagnosed or treated and sought for a direction to the Opposite Parties to pay an amount of ₹10,00,000/- as damages and ₹50,000/- on account of mental agony and the amounts spent towards medical expenses etc.
The Opposite Parties filed the Written Version, admitting that the Patient was admitted on 12.11.2010 at 12.15 a.m. in the emergency room with fever, nausea, body ache, vomiting and weakness. She was attended by the emergency doctors on duty and, after taking the complete history and examining the Patient thoroughly, certain investigations were also advised and symptomatic treatment for her problem in the form of IV fluids and anti-acid treatment was started. The test reports revealed that the Patient had Leucopenia (Low White Cells), Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelets Count), High SGOT, SGPT (Liver Enzymes) and she was diagnosed to be suffering from viral fever with hepatitis. A provisional diagnosis of dengue fever was made because during that time there was an epidemic of dengue fever in the city. It was averred that her vitals were regularly monitored by the well trained staff and junior doctors and the condition of the Patient was stable. The Opposite Parties denied that there was any inhuman behaviour or that the Complainant and the Patient were pushed out from the Hospital.
At about 3.15 p.m., on 12.11.2010, the Patient complained of restless and was examined by the duty doctor, who checked the temperature, pulse rate, and BP together with oxygen saturation and advised Metropan for fever and gave fast IV fluids as the BP was slightly on the lower side. The Patient was again examined by the doctor at 4.00 p.m. After giving fast IV fluid, BP was 90/60 and Temp 1030F. The Patient was shifted from ICU to private room because there was a possibility of impending shock pursuant to Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS), which is considered as a complication of viral fever. Hemoglobin was also checked to rule out any massive internal bleeding. At about 4.30 p.m., when the Patient’s BP was 89/73, Pulse 124, Fever 1030F, SPO2 90%, she was started with dopamine infusion because of the fall of the BP. Patient’s attendants were also informed regarding the serious condition of the Patient. It was also averred that the Patient had left against medical advice. It was stated that the Patient was last seen in the hospital when she was sick and was responding to the treatment rendered.
Based on the evidence adduced, the District Forum dismissed the Complaint.
Aggrieved by the said order, the Complainant preferred an Appeal before the State Commission, which also concurred with the finding of the District Forum and consequently dismissed the Appeal, observing thus:
“6. … The case of the wife of complainant is that she left against medical advice from the hospital of OPs. The cause of death of patient has not been proved on the record. It has not been explained as how the proper treatment was not given to wife of complainant and in what manner, OPs were deficient in service. There is no expert witness on the record to prove any medical negligence or deficiency in service on the part of OPs. Vide Ex. R-2, the patient was admitted on 12.11.2010 at about 12.15 AM and as per Ex. R-3 she was discharged on the same day at about 5 PM and she left the hospital against medical advice. She remained in hospital only for one day. Admission record Ex. R-2 is signed by the complainant. The admission record Ex R-2 proves that she was treated by Dr. Dinesh and Dr. Inderjit Singh, vide admission no. 9221. Vide Ex. R-3, the history sheet prepared by OPs, it is recorded that at about 5 PM, the complainant stated that he wantd to take his wife to DMC Hospital Ludhiana and patient left the hospital against medical advice. So, in the circumstances of the case, we do not find any medical negligence or deficiency in service on the part of the OPs in this case. A doctor treats the patient, but never guarantees to cure the patient. It has not been proved on the record that treatment provided to the wife of complainant was against the standard medical practice. Even wrong diagnosis cannot be termed as medical negligence. The diagnosis is only an opinion by the doctors for examination of patient and it may consist of physical as well as mechanical examination. We find that order of the District Forum is sustainable in the eyes of law and it does not suffer from any illegality or material infirmity.”
Learned Counsel for the Revision Petitioner/Complainant submitted that both the Doctor and the nursing staff did not take proper care in treating the Patient and also that no assistance was given while the Patient had to be transferred to another hospital with respect to provision of ambulance and that had the Patient been properly diagnosed/treated and rightly advised, she would have lived longer.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in a catena of decisions, including in Laxman Balkrishna Joshi v. Trimbak Bapu Godbole and Anr., 1969 AIR 128, has observed what is the duty of care which is required to be rendered to a patient. In the said case, the Apex Court has, inter alia, held as under:
“The duties which a doctor owes to his patient are clear. A person who holds himself out ready to give medical advice and treatment impliedly undertakes that he is possessed of skill and knowledge for the purpose. Such a person when consulted by a patient owes him certain duties, viz., a duty of care in deciding whether to undertake the case, a duty of care in deciding what treatment to give or a duty of care in the administration of that treatment. A breach of any of those, duties gives a right of action for negligence to, the patient. The practitioner must bring to his task a reasonable degree of skill and knowledge and must exercise a reasonable degree of care.”
A brief perusal of the record shows that the Complainant has not been able to establish as to exactly what the Doctor ought to have done as per the standards of normal medical parlance and what was not done. There is no material on record to prove that the Opposite Parties had not rendered the necessary treatment and had not diagnosed the disease. Neither the prescription nor the treatment record has been filed. In the absence of any medical records to establish his case, the Counsel was specifically asked if the progress notes were available and there was a statement made that he did not have any treatment record available. It was specifically pleaded in the Written Version that the Patient was suffering from dengue and that to prevent the Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS), which is a common complication of such viral fever, the necessary treatment with respect to administration of fast IV fluids, monitoring of BP and pulse, oxygen saturation, the haemoglobin levels etc. were regularly checked. The Patient was also shifted to ICU only to monitor her parameters as her BP was falling and the temperature had arisen. If the Patient had left against medical advice and there is no material on record to establish that the care, which ought to have been taken, has not been taken, as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Jacob Mathew v. State of Punjab & Anr., (2005) 6 SCC 1 and several other judgments, no negligence can be attributed to the Opposite Parties.
In view of the above and also keeping in view the concurrent finding of fact by both the Fora below and our limited revisional jurisdiction, as envisaged by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Rubi (Chandra) Dutta v. M/s United India Insurance Co. Ltd., II (2010) CPJ 19 (SC), the Revision Petition fails and is dismissed accordingly.