New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) The Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (DSCDRC) has directed Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and its five doctors to pay Rs 7.20 lakh to a deceased patient's husband, holding that they used the woman as "an experimental site" without adhering to the standard line of treatment.

The commission, which ordered payment of Rs 5.10 lakh as damages for the physical agony suffered by the deceased, Rs 1.20 lakh for the mental distress caused to her husband, besides Rs 90,000 as litigation costs, said they made inaccurate diagnosis and failed to provide the patient proper post-operative care.

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The consumer panel passed the order on a complaint filed by the husband alleging that medical negligence and professional misconduct on the part of the hospital and its doctors resulted in his wife's death on June 18, 2015.

A bench of DSCDRC president Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said the hospital failed to provide any explanation for making the complainant wait for over two months before providing him the complete medical records of his wife.

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In a verdict dated February 9, the bench, also comprising judicial member Pinki and general member J P Agrawal, observed that complainant Basant Lal Sharma was prima facie kept "dangling in the air for no reason whatsoever" after he demanded reports of tests conducted on the patient before her death.

Noting the evidence before it, the bench said the opposite parties (hospital and five doctors) either did not remove the patient's spleen and wrongly charged the patient for the surgery, or carried an erroneous post-operative treatment based on a wrong test report which showed the spleen as intact.

"The opposite parties have prima facie failed in exercising reasonable care towards the patient in so much so that all the treating doctors proceeded with further treatment based on an erroneous report which shows the spleen to be intact when the same was already removed," it said.

They cannot shrug off the liability for failing to exercise reasonable care and diligence in extending post-operative care to the patient, it said.

The commission also noted contradictions in the ultrasound report and death report.

"The clinical summary (in the death report) states that the liver is observed to be enlarged than its normal size. However, the ultrasound report makes it clear that the liver is normal in size. This again indicates a confused state of conduct, raising an adverse inference against the level of skill and competence of the opposite parties," it said.

Their conduct, it said, was below the standards of a reasonably competent practitioner, the commission said.

It said, "The opposite parties being a team of doctors, are dealing with human lives and not guinea pigs. The treating doctors, working in synergy, cannot use the patient as an experimental site without adhering to the standard line of medical treatment."

"A single word written erroneously in the report, a mere head turn while performing a procedure, merely looking left and right midst diagnosis or treatment can change the whole life of the patient and can give life-long trauma to patients, shattering their lives in the most unimaginable ways and a minuscule act of negligence on the part of the doctor can change the whole course of treatment," the commission added.

It said doctors owed the highest moral obligation to take care of patients as they were dealing with human lives.

"A medical practitioner who is consulted by a patient owes him certain duties, namely, a duty of care in deciding whether to undertake the case; a duty of care in deciding what treatment to give; and a duty of care in his administration of that treatment," the panel said.

It said a breach of any of these duties will support an action for negligence by the patient.

"It is crucial to remark here that the aforesaid discussion be treated as an advisory to all medical practitioners and members of the healthcare industry to be careful while dealing with human lives," the commission said.

Holding the hospital and the five doctors negligent, the commission directed them to pay Rs 85,000 each (total of Rs 5.10 lakh) as damages towards the physical agony suffered by the deceased patient.

It also directed the hospital through its medical superintendent and Dr Pankaj Aggarwal, Dr Ambuj Garg, Dr Shyaam Aggarwal, Dr Sudhir Kalhan and Dr Prakash Shastri to pay Rs 20,000 each (total Rs 1.20 lakh) to the complainant as damages for suffering mental agony besides Rs 15,000 each (total Rs 90,000) as litigation cost.

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