Forum upholds Rs 10L fine on private hospital

08 February, 2016

Chennai: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has upheld the order of the state commission that fined a private hospital `10 lakh for failing to inform a patient about the possible complications of a brain surgery. 

S Suryanarayan said his daughter Seelam Pavani Pani, then 18, had headache and vomiting. She was admitted to Ramachandra Medical Centre, Porur, on June 17, 1997. The doctor informed Pavani's parents that it was a minor problem, which could be cured by a simple surgery and the girl would be discharged from the hospital in 10 days. Pani, however, was discharged after a month with severe complications: a permanent deformity of 75% in the left hand and leg, speech impairment and drug dependency for life. 


The hospital, in 2001, advised a second surgery , which Suryanarayan refused. He then moved the state commission in 2001 seeking compensation for medical negligence. The commission, in its order in January 2015, absolved the hospital of conducting a wrong surgery , but fined it `10 lakh for not producing the consent document as evidence. Ramachandra Medical Centre fi led an appeal with the national commission. 


Denying negligence, the hospital's counsel said as the complaint was filed five years after the surgery, records of the patient could not be produced. Medical Council of India rules say hospitals must preserve medical records only for three years. 


But the bench noted that five years after receiving the legal notice, the hospital had replied in detail about events like date, time and mode of treatment. 


The bench wondered how they could reply in detail, if records were not preserved beyond and added that the hospital had provided a "false and suspicious submission". It then upheld the state commission's order. 

The commission also urged the Union ministry of health and family welfare "for framing proper regulations [regarding maintenance of medical records]" in best interest of the doctorpatient relationship.