The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission while dismissing an appeal of a dentist said that not maintaining proper record of treatment and practising super-specialty in dentistry without a recognised postgraduate qualification constitutes medical negligence under the Consumer Protection Act.
It also asked her to pay Rs. 10,000 as costs to her patient. The dentist Sangeeta Devikar, a Panvel resident had filed an appeal before the state commission against an order of the Alibaug District Forum’s which had asked her to pay Rs. 2 lakhs to her patient for treatment expenditure, mental and physical harassment in a medical negligence case.
Her advocate told the state commission that the district forum had not heard her while passing the order and she had not received any notice from it. He also argued that the Ashutosh Pathak, the patient - Nashik resident, had attended only seven months of the one-and-a-half year treatment. Dr. Devikar had completed a one-year advanced course in clinical Orthodontics he told the commission, making her competent to treat the patient.
Pathak appeared before the commission and told it that while Dr. Devikar claims to specialise in orthodontics, her certificate course is not recognised by the Dental Council of India. He further said that her treatment papers do not contain details of the treatment planned or its progress. Regarding her not receiving notice from the district forum, he told the commission that she had been intimated by the postman about the registered summons but she did not collect it.
The state commission accepted this contention and said that the decision of the district forum for ex-parte hearing was right. It said in its order, “The appellant has not maintained a proper record of treatment, there is no record of information given to the patient and his acceptance signed in the form of Informed Consent,” it said.
Further the Commission’s President Justice AP Bhangale and member SK Kakade said in their order that the certificate issued by the Academy of Advanced Dental Studies mentioning that Devikar has completed one year hands-on training programme in Clinical Orthodontics cannot be accepted as the email reply of Secretary of Dental Council of India says this programme was not recognised by it.
“We are of the opinion that practising super-speciality in dentistry i.e Orthodontics without formal, recognised postgraduate qualification in Orthodontics is considered as medical negligence by a dental professional. Additionally not maintaining proper treatment records as prescribed in the Code of Dental Ethics to be considered as medical negligence by a dental professional under Consumer Protection Act,” the order stated.
Pathak had taken treatment from the dentist for correction of deformed teeth, but unhappy with the treatment, had discontinued it. When he went to other dentists as he was experiencing pain in teeth and jaw after her treatment, he was informed that the expected correction had not taken place and that it was then difficult to achieve it.