Sympathies, but can’t translate into legal remedy: Consumer Commission in medical negligence case

Mumbai: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission denied a claim of Rs 3 crore made by the father of a doctor who died in 2009 after being administered anesthesia before a knee surgery, saying that though its sympathy is with the complainant, it cannot translate into a legal remedy.

Dismissing their claim of medical negligence against six doctors, the commission’s presiding member Dr SM Kantikar said, “There is not much one can do to prevent a disgruntled complainant/patient from approaching a court or redressal forum... I do agree with the agony of the complainant, but then, that by itself cannot be a cause for awarding damages of the passing away of his son.”

The complaint had been filed by the father of Dr Sunil Yadav, an orthopaedic surgeon and professor in Bharati Vidyapeeth University Medical College, Sangli. The doctor had died of cardiac arrest after being administered spinal anesthesia for a knee operation to be conducted as part of a live workshop. The 76-year-old had blamed several factors, among these - pre-anaesthesia fitness was not checked, the hospital had not checked if the anaesthetist was recognized and registered and that the operation theatre was ill-equipped. The anaesthetist, a friend of Dr. Yadav, had died by suicide two days after his death.

The doctors had contended in their submissions that the death was an unexpected unfortunate incident and not due to negligence.

The Commission concluded that necessary pre-operative investigations were done, reports were within normal limits and fitness for operation was obtained. “The doctors present in the operation theatre were competent and have performed necessary cardiac resuscitation as per standard protocol,” member Kantikar said. He called the death “unfortunate and unexpected” even before surgeons put a knife for surgery and said that “causation” of medical negligence is not visible.

The commission also noted that sadly the anaesthetist who administered anaesthesia to the patient died by suicide shortly.

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