Doctor testimony not necessary to establish medical negligence

24 July, 2016

Would a complaint of alleged medical negligence have to be proved by examining the subsequent doctor who treated the patient? Or would it suffice to rely on documentary evidence? Here is a case where a consumer successfully established medical negligence without causing any harassment to the subsequent doctor who saved her life. Case Study:Geeta Khalkho was pregnant. For delivery, she was admitted under Dr Kiran Agrawal who ran a nursing home called Arogya Niketan Prasuti Grih & Nursing Home at Ambikapur in Chattisgarh. Delivery was performed through caesarean section on May 12, 2010.

After delivery, Geeta developed abdominal pain which gradually worsened. She was advised to undergo a CT scan, which was done at Raghunath District Hospital. The report revealed hyperdense soft tissue lesion in the right lumbar and iliac regions, which might be a foreign body. Moderate pelvic ascites was also observed. Geeta underwent a surgery at Arihant Hospital under Dr Anju Goel, who removed a surgical mop from her abdomen which had been left behind during the caesarean delivery.

Geeta filed a complaint before the District Forum against Dr Kiran Agrawal and Arogya Niketan Prasuti Grih & Nursing Home. She alleged negligence in conducting the caesarean delivery, due to which she was put to pain and an expense of Rs 30,093 for removal of the surgical mop.

The forum held the doctor and nursing home guilty of negligence. It ordered them to reimburse Rs 30,093 paid for the subsequent surgery to remove the mop, and also awarded Rs 2 lakh as compensation for the pain and suffering which Geeta underwent. The entire amount was ordered to be paid along with 6% interest from the date of the complaint. This order was challenged in appeal, which was dismissed by the Chhatisgarh State Commission. The dispute finally reached the National Commission in revision.

Dr Kiran Agrawal argued that Geeta had neither filed the affidavit nor examined Dr Anju Goel to prove that a mop had been removed from her abdomen. She contended there was no proof to show that a mop had been left behind, and so it was wrong to hold her guilty of negligence.

In a judgment delivered by Justice Ajit Bharihoke for the bench along with Dr S M Kantikar, the National Commission observed that Dr Kiran Agrawal's argument was devoid of merit. It noted that the CT scan report prior to the second surgery indicated the presence of a foreign body. This was confirmed when the surgical mop was subsequently retrieved and removed by Dr Anju Goel at Arihant Hospital. The fact has been recorded in the discharge card. The commission concluded that the presence of the mop left behind in Geeta's abdomen was proved through documentary evidence comprising the CT scan report and the discharge card.


Accordingly, by its order of July 22, the National Commission dismissed the revision, and upheld the finding of negligence, holding Dr Kiran Agrawal and her nursing home liable to pay compensation.


Conclusion: A consumer can prove a medical negligence complaint through documentary evidence without filing any affidavit or leading proof from a doctor.