Can t expect docs to stay with patients all the time

13 April, 2016

doctor, like any other normal human being, needs rest. He cannot be expected to remain with a patient for 24 hours a day, the national consumer court has observed.

The issue arose when an aged patient with chest complications had to be shifted from ward to the ICU of a hospital in Surat, as the doctor, who initially took care of the patient, had to go outstation. The patient died later in the ICU, and his son filed a complaint of medical negligence. While dealing with the complaint, the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission batted for doctors and said, "A doctor, like any other professional can take leave, if felt necessary for him on account of his personal reasons... he cannot be expected to remain with the patient or in the hospital 24 hours of the day."

In this case, 86-year-old Kantilal Joshi was admitted in Sheth PT Surat General Hospital with respiratory problems in November 2012.He was under treatment of Dr Samir Gami, who retired for the day in the evening, because he had to go outstation. In his absence, Dr S S Indorwala began looking af ter the patient.

Six hours after Dr Gami left, the patient died past midnight. His son Manish Joshi sued the doctors and hospital and demanded Rs 2 crore for death due to medical negligence.

Before the consumer court, Dr Gami, who is a chest physician, explained that the patient was suffering from chronic end-stage disease, severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fibrotic lung lesion and bronchiectasis. Lung transplant was not a suitable option looking at the patient's advanced age, and therefore he was put on steroids. Because the doctor had to leave for outstation, the patient was shifted to ICU.


He was initially advised non invasive ventilator sup port, but later due to deteriorating condition, he was put on invasive ventilator after taking relatives' consent.


The complainant claimed that Dr Gami did not brief the other doctor, who took over charge of the patient.


But the consumer court was not convinced with this argument. It observed, "No such briefing would be necessary since the symptoms and diagnosis of the patient, as well as the treatment being given to him in the hospital, is recorded in the treatment record."

The court found no negligence on part of the doctors, who "could not have been expected to remain with the patient or in the hospital 24 hours of the day...We have to keep in mind that the patient was admitted in a hospital and not in the clinic of the doctor".