Holding a private nursing home, and two diagnostic centres guilty of medical negligence, the Panchkula Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum directed them to pay total Rs. 12 lakhs and compensation for mental agony amounting Rs. 1.5 lakhs for their failure to detect physical abnormalities in a fetus that was born as a physically-challenged male child to Sector 26-based woman.
Seema Rani, wife of Rajnish Kumar, resident of Sector 26 was pregnant in October, 2013 and following abdomen pain visited Gupta Nursing Home, Sector 16. Dr Poonam Gupta referred her to Batra Diagnostic Centre, Sector 5 for Ultrasound. She showed Ultrasound reports to Dr Gupta in December, 2013, who told her that report is normal and prescribed some medicines.
Rani stated that she did not get relief, following which she visited General Hospital(GH), Sector 6, which again referred her to Batra Diagnostic Centre, Sector 5 for Ultrasound for Fetus Wellbeing. Dr Dev Batra from the Centre, stated in his report, that the fetus was normal, following which the doctor at GH-6 advised her special diet.
After no improvement in health, she visited Government Dispensary, Sector 26 in May, 2014 and the doctor advised Ultrasound, after which she visited Kap’s Diagnostic Centre, Sector 4, where Dr Jyotika Kapoor stated in the Ultrasound report that the fetus was normal in growth.
In July, 2014, Seema gave birth to a “handicapped child”in GH-6 whose “two bones (Tibia and Fibula) were shortened lower limb bilaterally and the femur was not visualized”, meaning thereby, that he would not be able to walk properly. After few weeks, she visited a Child Specialist who after X-ray and ultrasound of the child, pointed out physical disabilities in the child.
Highlighting that she remained under treatment from 7th week of pregnancy till the child’s delivery, got conducted Ultrasound, X-rays and other tests as advised by doctors, after spending huge amount, Rani stated that none of them disclosed the fact of abnormality of the fetus in the womb. As a result, her child, named Adarsh, now 10-months old would have to live with abnormalities.
In the Court, Dr Gupta argued that she had advised USG-2 to rule out congenital anomalies in fetus, but she got conducted only USG-1. For which, the Court stated, “If a patient does not follow the instructions of the doctor and radiologist, it would be required of doctor to make note. However, there was no such note on treatment card, and it appears as afterthought.”
Highlighting that doctors who have conducted the USG have not done their duties with care and diligence, the Court stated, “It is the duty of the ultrasound centre to satisfy that there was no lack of care and diligence.”
It further stated, “It is strange that Batra Diagnostic Centre and Kap’s Diagnostic Centre have done ultrasound on the person for three times but failed to detect the abnormality.”
Holding them guilty, the Court directed Dr Poonam Gupta from Gupta Nursing Home to pay Rs.2 lakhs, Dr Dev Batra from Batra Diagnostic Centre to pay Rs.5 lakhs, Dr Jyotika Kapoor from Kap’s Diagnostic Centre and its insurer, United India Insurance Company Limited, Delhi to pay Rs 5 lakhs to Seema Rani.
The Court directed all of them to pay a compensation of Rs.1.5 lakhs for mental agony and harassment, out of which Gupta Nursing Home will pay Rs.30,000, Batra’s Diagnostic Centre will pay Rs.60,000, and Kaps’ Diagnostice Centre will pay Rs.60,000, apart from Rs 11,000 as cost of litigation.
> Though, the case was also against GH-6 and Government Dispensary, Sector 26, however, the Court refrained from recording a finding in the matter of the averment regarding deficiency of services on their part, citing, “law-related rigour of their being out of the jurisdiction of the Consumer Forum”. The Counsel for GH-6 had argued that it does not fall within the ambit of consumer as the health services in State of Haryana are provided free of costs except some nominal charge for patient card.