When a patient is admitted in the hospital, it is the duty of the doctors and nursing staff of the hospital to give best possible care and treat the patient. We find the conduct of the doctors and the nurses to be outrageous. It shocks the conscience of this court, the Bench said.
A man who approached Bombay High Court, thirteen years ago, complaining negligence of doctors which cost him his fingers, got justice as the Court directed the Hospital and Mumbai Municipal Corporation to pay an amount of Rupees Twenty one Lakh to him. Division bench comprising of Justices A.S.Oka & K.R.Shriram held that petitioner losing the fingers of his right hand is directly attributable to the gross and direct negligence on the part of the doctors and nursing staff of Rajawadi Hospital run by the State.
Umakant Kisan Mane had approached the Bombay High Court in 2002 complaining about negligence of the doctors and the nurses, who were treating him in the hospital, which resulted in his loss of fingers on his right hand. During the Admission stage of this petition, the Court had appointed a committee headed by a Retired High Court judge, which never gave its report.
The court perusing the medical and inquiry reports observed that that the consent of the father of the patient was obtained for performing the operation but the forms were not signed by the doctors and the signature of the father of the petitioner was in Marathi but the consent is in English language. The court added that there was no signature of the witnesses showing that the father was explained the nature of the ailment and the operation in the language that he knows and there was some kind of communication gap between the physicians who were treating the petitioner and the petitioner's relatives.
The Court came down heavily on the Hospital authorities who blamed the relatives for not taking special care of the patient. The Court said “It is rather strange, can we accept that the doctors and the nursing staff have taken adequate or proper care of the patient by asking the relatives to take care of the patient? Was it not the duty of the treating doctors and nurses to periodically check whether the drugs were going into the vein of the petitioner as it was supposed to? “
The Court also said that when a patient is admitted in the hospital, it is the duty of the doctors and nursing staff of the hospital to give best possible care and treat the patient. The bench added “We find the conduct of the doctors and the nurses to be outrageous. It shocks the conscience of this court. There has been wanton disregard on the part of the doctors, the nurses and the respondents. If the doctors and the nurses had any regard for the patient, they would have, particularly when they are aware that the drugs that were administered may have the effect of causing gangrene if it did not go properly into the vein, taken proper care and not been negligent. . All this leads to only one conclusion -gross negligence and wanton disregard towards the patient by the doctors and the nurses and the patient is a helpless victim.”
The Court said that it is apparent from the inquiry report that the doctors and the nursing staff were negligent and the petitioner was a helpless victim of this negligence. But the Court added “As the matter is also very old, it will be very difficult to pinpoint negligence on an individual. Many may have retired or died or left the service and moved on in life.”
The Court said that the petitioner is entitled to compensation in the nature of exemplary damages as his loss of fingers is directly attributable to the gross and direct negligence on the part of the doctors and nursing staff of Rajawadi Hospital run by state. The Court then granted him Ten Lakhs compensation along with interest which amounts to Rs.21, 82,500.
Read the Judgment here.