Pune: The Pune district consumer disputes redressal forum has directed a private hospital in Hadapsar and three medical professionals working there to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to a man for deficient service and medical negligence, resulting in the death of his pregnant wife in August 2009.
Indira Waghole (28), a lawyer from Kedgaon in Daund, was admitted to the Sanjeevani Hospital at Gadital in Hadapsar on August 24, 2009, as she was due for delivery. The following day, she suffered pain in her stomach, but it was not a case of labour pains. There were complications after the doctors gave her medicine to induce labour. She died during treatment and the death was attributed to amniotic fluid embolism, a rare condition resulting from bleeding in the womb.
Her husband, Pandharinath, moved a consumer complaint before the district forum in April 2011. He alleged that consulting gynaecologist Kusum U Tamhane and medical professionals Uttam Tamhane and Ujjwala Upendra Chaudhari at the hospital did not render her proper treatment and it was due to their negligence that he lost his wife and the expected child. He demanded Rs 15 lakh as compensation, besides Rs 4.7 lakh damages towards mental agony and Rs 29,999 towards cost of litigation.
On their part, the respondents denied the allegations and maintained that the patient was given proper treatment by qualified and competent doctors, but unfortunately, succumbed to amniotic fluid embolism. There was no negligence, they insisted.
The Sassoon General Hospital had given an expert report in the case stating that the consulting gynaecologist could not be held responsible for the patient's demise, but that the death may have occurred due to reaction of medicines administered during treatment.
A two-member bench of the consumer forum, comprising V P Utpat and Kshitija Kulkarni, ruled on March 15 that even going by the Sassoon General Hospital's report, the gynaecologist and other medical professionals who rendered medicines and treatment to the patient must be held responsible for the patient's death.
The bench observed that the hospital could not explain any effort taken for saving the life of the child nor did it present any expert opinion on why a caesarean section was not performed on the patient who was going through complications after induced labour. It held the hospital liable for concealing the patient's death and shirking its responsibility by transferring the dead patient to a larger hospital for "further treatment".
The second hospital, added subsequently as a fifth respondent in the case, had argued that it was needlessly implicated in the matter as the patient had died before she could be admitted in their hospital.
The forum observed that the Sanjeevani Hospital authorities had given no clarification on whether the patient died while being transferred to the second hospital or thereafter and concealed the timing of her death. It cited a 2010 ruling by the state consumer disputes redressal commission which held that transferring a patient from one hospital to another after his/her death is tantamount to cheating and negligence. All this amounted to deficiency in service, it ruled.
The forum partly allowed Pandharinath's complaint by settling the compensation amount, inclusive of mental agony and cost of litigation, to Rs 10 lakh. The hospital and the three professionals must pay the amount within six weeks from the date of the order it ruled.