29 Nov 2023 4:29 PM GMT
The Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has allowed a significant complaint filed against MIOT Hospital, alleging negligence and service deficiency on their part. According to the complaint the hospital failed to anticipate and manage flooding during the rainy season despite warnings from government agencies. This negligence resulted in a power outage where critical...
The Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has allowed a significant complaint filed against MIOT Hospital, alleging negligence and service deficiency on their part. According to the complaint the hospital failed to anticipate and manage flooding during the rainy season despite warnings from government agencies. This negligence resulted in a power outage where critical life support systems, including ventilators in the Medical ICU located in the basement, failed during the flood. This led to the deaths of 18 patients, including the complainant's husband.
While allowing the complaint, Justice R. Subbiah held the hospital liable for administrative negligence which contributed to the deaths of the patients. Consequently, the Commission directed the hospital to pay a compensation of Rs. 20,00,000/- to the complainant along with an additional cost of Rs.2,00,000/-.
Shanthi’s husband (deceased) suffered a head injury on November 11th, 2015, and was admitted to a hospital due to a brain hemorrhage. Despite initial treatment at another hospital, he was moved to the Miot Hospital (Opposite Party) for further care where he was diagnosed with severe conditions and required intensive care, including ventilator support. The hospital restricted attendants' presence after specific hours, and on 1st December, due to heavy rains causing floods, Shanti could not go to the hospital.
The complaint alleged that the hospital failed to inform about the flood situation adequately, leading to chaos and a lack of information to the families of patients. Shanthi got to know about her husband’s death through media announcements on 4th December, despite efforts to get information from the hospital. The death certificate, according to the complaint, inaccurately attributed the cause of death, stating underlying ailments instead of acknowledging the lack of ventilator support due to the power outage during the flood.
The complaint emphasized the foreseeability of the disaster, and their alleged negligence in not evacuating patients despite warnings. Hence, Shanthi (Complainant) filed a consumer complaint seeking compensation for the mental agony and financial losses suffered.
Arguments of MIOT Hospital
The Hospital argued that the patient had a history of alcoholism and various severe health issues, including hypertension, diabetes, and lung complications. According to them, their standard protocol of limited visitation for critically ill patients, aimed at preventing infections. Regarding the floods, they argued that the hospital faced a situation beyond their control due to the overflowing Adyar River and the subsequent breach of the hospital's wall. They mentioned their efforts to assist patients by shifting them to other hospitals.
The hospital also referred to a decision of the Madras High Court in response to a PIL, in which the Division Bench had rejected the allegations against Miot Hospital regarding deaths during the floods and directed police authorities to file a final report after due investigation.
Further, the hospital denied the allegations of negligence, stating that they took steps to ensure patient safety during the floods. They argued that they also involved a “Disaster Management Head” to devise plans for oxygen supply and electricity backup. They disputed the claim that the patient's death occurred due to any negligence on their part. Instead, they argued that the complainant's husband passed away due to his severe medical conditions.
Observations of the Commission
The Commission found that the failure to shift patients from the flooded Medical ICU, despite prior warnings, indicated negligence on the part of the Hospital. This negligence, although not intentional, resulted in a breach of duty regarding continuous life support. The Commission also asserted that negligence in the hospital's disaster response was evident. Although not the sole cause, it contributed to the patient's death. Regarding legal proceedings, the Commission rejected the hospital's argument about the Madras High Court's order, clarifying that the High Court's order did not cover the “negligence” issue but focused only on "unauthorized construction". They also dismissed claims of multiplicity of proceedings or forum shopping between the consumer complaint and a criminal complaint, highlighting that both sought different reliefs under distinct legal provisions.
While observing the hospital's failure to efficiently manage the disaster, the State Commission emphasized the hospital’s obligation to reinforce its disaster management system as per the government regulations. Consequently, the Commission held the hospital liable for administrative negligence, directing them to pay compensation of Rs.20,00,000/- to the complainant with additional costs of Rs.2,00,000/-.
Case Title: Shanthi KalaiArasan vs. M/s. Miot Hospitals
Counsel for the Complainant: M/s. R. Karthikeyan, Adv.
Counsel for the Opposite Party: Mr. S. Manuraj, Adv.
Click Here To Read/Download The Order