In a case of medical negligence, a Delhi doctor "wrongly operated" the left foot of a polio patient in 2003. The operation was conducted mistakenly on a polio-stricken teenage girl's right foot. Later, Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions asked the doctor to compensate the girl's family with Rs 10 lakh. She was compensated for the post-surgery injured she suffered causing a delay in her education and matrimonial prospects.
A report in The Times of India quoted NP Kaushik, the commission’s judicial member as saying, "The doctor committed negligence. He is, therefore, directed to compensate complainant Harpreet Kaur by paying her Rs 10 lakh for the injury and mental agony caused to her. She could not pursue her studies and her matrimonial prospects were badly affected."
According to the commission, before the surgery, the doctor Dr PS Maini, had taken the family's signature on an "unfilled form". In the commission's opinion, it was important to plan before performing the surgery after which the consent had to be obtained.
Kaushik said, "Filling up of the column for the body part to be operated upon cannot be the liability of a patient or relatives/attendants who are laymen. It is for the hospital or the treating doctors to explain to the patient or relatives/attendants the risks involved and the course of action/procedure to be followed." He added saying, "Rather, the doctor fell in grave error in obtaining consent on his unfilled form. This in itself is a case of deficiency in service."
The girl and her father Avtar Singh travelled from Punjab to find a solution to the teenager's health issue on June 3, 1999. She was then diagnosed with "post-polio equinovalgus" condition in the right foot. Kaur was admitted at a clinic on May 30, 200,3 and her left foot was operated instead of the right one.
A post-surgery certificate issued by the doctor read, "I, Dr P S Maini, have operated on the left foot of Harpreet Kaur for post-polio equinovalgus on May 30, 2003, at Sama Nursing Home."
The doctor said that the girl's both legs were affected by polio and the normal practice was to deal with the "better foot first". The doctor said, "It was, therefore, not open for the complainants to contend that right foot was to be operated upon first." He said that the family did not fill up the form on purpose leaving it to the doctor's judgement.
However, the commission relied on a pre-surgery history sheet of the patient which states, "Surgery of the left foot to be done later on."Kaushik said, "The document supports the case of the complainants. It goes to show that the surgery required to be done on the right foot was wrongly done on the left foot."