The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to hold a hospital and its doctors guilty of medical negligence merely on the allegation that the sterilization operation performed on a woman was unsuccessful.
Justice Valmiki J. Mehta observed, “Since medically there is never a 100% chance of success in sterilization operations, the mere fact that the operation was not successful, that by itself cannot be a reason to hold the appellant/defendant and its doctors guilty of negligence.”
The Court was hearing an appeal filed by Lok Nayak Hospital, challenging a judgment passed by the Trial Court in August 2005, wherein the hospital was found guilty of medical negligence and was directed to pay a sum of Rs. 2,20,000 to the plaintiff.
It was the plaintiff’s case that one of the hospital’s doctors performed an unsuccessful sterilization operation on her, leading to her conceiving again.
While the plaintiff had alleged that the hospital had failed to perform the operation correctly, the hospital had pointed out that she had signed two forms before undergoing the operation, wherein it was specifically mentioned that the operation might not be successful. The forms also absolved the doctor of any responsibility if the operation was in fact unsuccessful.
The Court ruled in favour of the hospital, noting that the only allegation of negligence levelled by the plaintiff is that the operation had failed, and not that any specific act of negligence was committed by the doctors of the hospital. Ruling that no claim for negligence can be made out in such a scenario, it observed,
“Therefore, the mere fact that the respondent’s/plaintiff’s sterilization operation was not successful cannot mean that the appellant/defendant and its doctors can be held liable for negligence. It is not the case of the respondent/plaintiff that there was any specific negligence committed by the doctor namely Dr. Deepa in conducting the operation. Once there is no specific allegation of negligence it cannot be held that in fact or law the appellant/defendant is liable.”
The Court further took note of the fact that the plaintiff could have undergone an abortion if she did not want to bear a child. It, therefore, allowed the appeal, and set aside the impugned order.