26 Sep 2023 5:00 AM GMT
The Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, led by President Justice Sri. K. Surendra Mohan, along with Judicial Member Sri. Ajith Kumar D. and Member Smt. Beena Kumary, recently dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who had undergone a delivery procedure at Velankanni Matha Hospitals. The State Commission rejected her allegations of negligence against the attending...
The Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, led by President Justice Sri. K. Surendra Mohan, along with Judicial Member Sri. Ajith Kumar D. and Member Smt. Beena Kumary, recently dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who had undergone a delivery procedure at Velankanni Matha Hospitals. The State Commission rejected her allegations of negligence against the attending doctor, which had resulted in a condition known as brachial plexus in her newborn baby. The bench ruled that such events were unpredictable, and the doctors could not be held responsible for them. Additionally, the woman failed to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate her claims.
Sneha Rose Abraham (“Complainant”) underwent antenatal checkups at Lok Naik Jayaprakash Hospital in Delhi during her pregnancy. She was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and sought the expertise of Dr. M. Jaipal Johnson, a renowned gynecologist and Chairman of M/s Velankanni Matha Hospitals Private Limited (“Hospital”), for her delivery scheduled on 25.07.2011.
The doctor recommended a cesarean section on 18.08.2011 due to concerns about a macrosomic baby and potential complications related to gestational diabetes. On 17.08.2011, the Complainant was admitted to the hospital, but the doctor was not available. Dr. Sabila A., in charge of the Labor room, took charge of the delivery without consulting the complainant, despite various risk factors. During the delivery, Dr. Sabila allegedly deviated from medical protocols by conducting an episiotomy without permission, attempting vacuum-assisted delivery, and applying excessive traction on the baby's head. This resulted in severe injury to the baby's brachial plexus, causing limited movement in her left hand and eye. In response, the Complainant, along with her daughter and husband, filed a consumer complaint with the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Thiruvananthapuram (the "State Commission").
The hospital and the involved doctors countered the complaint, asserting that it appeared to be baseless and driven by a desire for unjust financial gain. They argued that the Complainant had mild gestational diabetes under control, and her labor proceeded normally. The attending doctor adhered to established medical protocols during the vacuum-assisted delivery, with the brachial plexus injury being unrelated to the method of delivery. Additionally, they argued that there was no valid reason for a cesarean section, and standard medical procedures were followed. The experienced medical professionals acted diligently, and any potential liability would be covered by the hospital's insurance.
Observations by the Commission:
After a thorough examination of the evidence presented by both parties, the State Commission determined that the burden of proving medical negligence rested with the complainant. In this regard, the complainant had called upon a Forensic Surgeon as a witness, whose expertise in gynecology was deemed insufficient, casting doubt on the credibility of his testimony. The State Commission referred to Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, which stipulates that expert witnesses must possess authoritative knowledge within their respective fields to be considered reliable experts.
Furthermore, the State Commission rejected other claims put forth by the complainant. Firstly, there was no definitive confirmation that she had gestational diabetes during her time in Delhi, as no supporting medical records were provided. Additionally, the baby's weight did not meet the criteria for being classified as macrosomic, and the justification for an elective caesarean section in this case was deemed lacking. The State Commission also noted that shoulder dystocia is an unpredictable occurrence in normal deliveries and that the medical records indicated that proper procedures had been followed. The complainant's assertion that the episiotomy had been performed without consent was considered unsubstantiated, as episiotomy is a standard procedure in vaginal deliveries. Furthermore, the State Commission acknowledged that brachial plexus injury can occur during shoulder dystocia, an event that is challenging to predict.
Ultimately, the State Commission concluded that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the hospital and the attending doctors during the delivery process. It emphasized that medical practitioners cannot be held accountable for unpredictable events. Consequently, the complaint was dismissed, and each party was instructed to bear their respective costs.
Case: Kumari Ivana William and ors. vs M/s Velankanni Matha Hospitals Pvt. Ltd. and others
Case No.: C.C. No. 61/2013
Advocate of the Complainants: Adv. R. Santhosh
Advocate of the Opposite Parties: Adv. M.C. Suresh (for Opposite Parties 1 and 2) and Adv. T.O. Xavier (for Opposite Party 3)