CASE LAW: March 9th, 2018

08 March, 2018

RELATIVES SUE THE HOSPITAL & DOCTOR FOR OBESITY REDUCTION SURGERY WHICH LED TO THE DEATH OF THE PATIENT (Harjeet Kaur V/s. Kular Hospital, Punjab and Ors. 2017)

FACTS:

The deceased patient Mr. Satinder Pal Singh, weighing 95 kg, height 5.10, having history of high BP and Diabetics was advised for Metabolic Surgery by the Opponents. On 05.11.2013, the Gastric By-pass surgery was performed. However after discharge, the Patient was feeling uneasy. The Opponents did the check-up and assured that everything will be ok.

The patient later developed Diabetic foot and deep burns for which he was advised for time to time dressing but on 20.8.2015 his foot was amputated and on 16.9.2015, the patient took his last breath. The Widow of the patient filed the complaint before Punjab State Forum alleging negligence on part of doctors that the Diabetics was not controlled inspite of said surgery and thus it was the failure of surgery.

HELD:

  • The Commission observed that the complaint was barred by limitation as the surgery was performed on 5.11.2013 whereas the complaint was filed on 6.12.2016, i.e., after limitation period of two years. There was a delay of 10 months plus no Delay Condonation Application was filed by the Complainant.
  • Even on merits, it was observed that the patient was diagnosed as Type II Diabetes Mellitus with Nephropathy, acute on Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Also, the patient suffered Septicemia and Depressive illness having multiple cuts injuries in the neck and bilateral wrist. Therefore, the patient was put on mechanical ventilator from 22.8.2015 to 24.8.2015. Because of diabetic foot and burns, the patient developed infection and Septicemia which was the ultimate cause of the death of the patient.
  • It was further advised the purpose of gastric bye-pass surgery was for the obesity, i.e., reduce the body weight. Nowhere, it was mentioned as a treatment for diabetes. The patient developed diabetic foot due to his uncontrolled diabetic status, which was clearly evident from the various laboratory reports.
  • Lastly the Commission relied on the celebrated judgment of Jacob Mathews Case, 2005, which read thus:-

“When a patient dies or suffers some mishap, there is a tendency to blame the doctor for this. Things have gone wrong and, therefore, somebody must be punished for it. However, it is well known that even the best professionals, what to say of the average professional, sometimes have failures. A lawyer cannot win every case in his professional career but surely he cannot be penalized for losing a case provided he appeared in it and made his submissions.”

Thus, the appeal was dismissed on the point of limitation as well as on merits.

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