Over two decades after a pregnant woman and her baby lost their lives while she was admitted for her second delivery, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission set aside the order of the State Commission and exonerated a Mahim hospital and its senior gynaecologist of the charge of medical negligence and found that there is no evidence of willful negligence.
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in 2015 had ordered Surlata Hospital and Dr. Sharad Gogate to pay Rs. 20 lakhs to the deceased’s Sunita’s husband Sarasheej Shate and their minor daughter as compensation.
The National Commission’s President Justice RK Agrawal and member SM Kantikar stated in their order that the state commission had wrongly entirely relied on the evidence of a doctor MD Gupta who had concluded that there was gross carelessness on the part of Dr. Gogate. It said the doctor’s opinion was not reliable as he was not an expert in gynaecology.
The commission had sought the opinion of the medical board of AIIMS which opined that there is no evidence of medical negligence. It also went through medical literature and concluded that a rare condition occurred that happens during delivery and is also associated with Caesarean delivery. It said the condition was not within the control of any doctor to anticipate or prevent and there is no evidence of willful negligence or breach of the duty of care.
Sunita had been admitted to the hospital on Sep 21, 2000 with labour pains. Shate had alleged before the state commission that the doctor asked them to wait for a normal delivery though she was in need of a C-Section and had left her in care of the nurses and ‘aayas’. He said the next day she started vomiting, her condition deteriorated and she died.
The hospital and the doctor had contested this. The doctor said he had been practising for 28 years, performed 5,500 deliveries and further that the complainant had suppressed various facts. The husband had requested him to induce labour pains as they lived far away in Mulund, he stated and it was on such instruction, he had given labour inducing medicines, he said. Further that, when the medicine did not yield results, a procedure was performed and the patient and her relatives were informed that it could cause vomiting and that there is no need to worry.