Case Law: 10th Feb, 2019

10 February, 2019

 
SRI AMALENDU BHATTACHARYYA v. DR. A. S. MAHAPATRA & ORS. (STATE CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION WEST BENGAL, FIRST APPEAL NO. A/966/2016)
ORDER DATED: 24.02.2018
 
FACTS:
Amalendu visited Dr. Bhattacharya with complain of pain in the abdomen. The doctor admitted the patient at Medinipur Nursing Home and performed USG and diagnosed him to be suffering from acute pancreatitis. The doctor treated the patient for about five days after which referred him to a higher center for better management.
To the patient’s shock and surprise, the USG reported normal pancreas at the higher center. Confused and worried, the patient approached Asian Institute of Gastroenterology where, again, the pancreas was reported in absolutely normal condition. To be completely sure, a MRCP was performed which confirmed the finding – there was nothing wrong with pancreas.

Once the patient was treated and recovered from the ailment, he wasted no time in approaching State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, West Bengal.
Presenting USG and MRCP reports to the Commission, the patient stated that he was not suffering from acute pancreatitis, but the doctor kept on treating him for the ailment. It was further alleged that the doctor continued treating him for acute pancreatitis only on clinical symptoms while he ignored the USG report. This, the patient concluded, was not an error in judgement but a clear case of negligence.
 
DEFENSE BY THE DOCTOR:
The doctor did his best to defend his actions but perhaps knew he had faltered. It was stated that pancreatitis is not always detected by USG and the best option was to treat the patient based on clinical symptoms and pathological reports. It was further stated that the patient was referred to a higher center without any delay and pleaded that this action should be seen in a positive light.

Medinipur Nursing Home on its part stated that they cannot be held liable or negligent based on a wrong action or a procedure performed by the doctor.
 
COURT HELD:
The Commission, however, was not impressed by the defense. It was observed that neither the USG nor MRCP reported pancreatitis let alone acute pancreatitis. It was further observed that while the doctor claimed to have treated the patient based on clinical symptoms, there was no evidence to show that he noted swollen and tender abdomen, nausea and vomiting, rapid pulse, persistent abdominal pain reaching to the back. The Commission also stated that radiological and sonography tests are more reliable than clinical symptoms to reach an accurate diagnosis.

The doctor did not follow this accepted medical practice and hence was held negligent along with the nursing home. Both were order to compensate the patient three lakh rupees collectively.
 
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