Case Law: Miscommunication With Patients – A Leading Reason For Cases Of Medical Negligence

ORDER DATED: 24.12.2018 (West Bengal Disputes Redressal Commission)

Biswanath was suffering from a hernia problem and visited Dr. Alok at the hospital where the doctor performed bilateral inguinal hernioplasty. The patient was discharged in a few days but his suffering didn’t end there.

Pus developed at the operated site and the patient visited the doctor again who performed another operation. However, the problem had aggravated and the patient didn’t get any relief, hence he visited another hospital with complaint of left inguinal region pain with increasing severity. Pus was drained out again at the other hospital, and that brought an end to Biswanath’s ordeal.

But it was beginning of Dr. Alok’s troubles as the patient approached West Bengal Disputes Redressal Commission and blamed him for his prolonged suffering.

The doctor tried to put up best defence as he stated that the second operation was performed to remove the mesh and not to cover up for the defect in the first one, it was only a case of miscommunication or misunderstanding. He further stated that infection at the operated site is a common complication and even the other hospital where the patient received treatment mentioned nothing about defect in the treatment. Moreover, the patient did not furnish an expert opinion to prove his allegation, concluded the doctor. The Commission didn’t accept the doctor’s claim of miscommunication and observed that the patient didn’t get any relief from the two procedures performed and hence it was a clear case of deficiency on part of the doctor. No expert opinion is required for such cases, concluded the Commission and held Dr. Alok and the hospital negligent. They were also ordered to compensate the patient.

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