Mumbai: An infant admitted with fever died after being admitted to the intensive care unit, leaving the doctor "baffled'' in 2009. A consumer forum was on Friday baffled that the doctor and hospital did not abide by medical protocols and holding them responsible for medical negligence directed them to pay the parents Rs 12 lakh in damages.
"The loss of an infant who never suffered from any serious ailment since birth cannot be compensated by money but we can assuage the grief and agony of the parents through adequate compensation," said forum president G K Rathod and member S G Chabukswar.
The south district forum on Friday held that Dr Cyrus Contractor and Masina Hospital were "medically negligent'' and their services were found to be "deficient'' in giving "wrong treatment'' to a one year, nine-month-old baby admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit in March 2009 as an emergency case following fever and vomiting.
Mahim residents Leo and Nancy Luis had moved the South Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in 2011 with the complaint against the doctor and the hospital, alleging negligence. They said the doctor had not taken their consent before undertaking a procedure. The forum found it to be a fatal flaw in the treatment, even as doctor in his defence admitted that he had "in good faith taken a lumbar puncture test with consent''. Dr Contractor said the complaint was "filed purely to tarnish my clean image and bring disrepute''. He said the case was meant only to "harass and extract money from a sincere and caring paediatrician''. He denied that he had suggested the parents take their child to Masina.
The forum found the hospital to be negligent in service as the ICU was closed for over 30 minutes due to fumigation and it was not available to the infant patient.
On March 9, 2009, when their son took ill, the parents said they had consulted Dr Contractor privately, but when few hours later his condition grew worse, the doctor advised them admit him to Masina Hospital, where he was a paediatrician and gave them a note to facilitate the admission into the paediatric ward in the evening. A doctor "injected him with 13 syringes of IV fluid to start drips''. The child began to convulse, the parent said, and a dietician asked for sugar level tests only to find the levels very low.
The child was slipping but the hospital doctor said "sedatives'' were given and "there is nothing to worry''. By 11.30pm, Dr Contractor instructed that he be shifted to IPCU, but at 2am the next day informed the parents that their son was dead and he was "baffled as to the cause of death and believed it was a viral infection''. He gave the reason as "septic shock''. The hospital said a post-mortem (PM) was not done as the parents did not want it. But the forum said the lack of a PM report itself was an act of negligence by the hospital.
The hospital also opposed the plea and said it was only to tarnish its good reputation and questioned the validity of the complaint since it was past a two-year limitation under consumer law.
The forum relied on experts and past judgements to hold that they were liable to pay damages for the negligence which led to the death of an infant. The damages would be shared equally. It directed them to pay Rs 5 lakh each for negligence and Rs 1 lakh each as compensation for the trauma caused to the parents.