Wheel Chair Injury At Hospital Due To Negligence Of Staff Not Strictly 'Medical Negligence': NCDRC

Shrutika Pandey

13 July 2021 11:09 AM GMT

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  • Wheel Chair Injury At Hospital Due To Negligence Of Staff Not Strictly Medical Negligence: NCDRC

    The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) recently held that injuries arising out of a wheelchair in a medical setting, purportedly due to negligence of staff, does not fall within the purview of medical negligence. Dr. SM Kantikar, the Presiding Member of NCDRC, however added a word of caution for the hospital authorities to make "systematic improvement" in their...

    The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) recently held that injuries arising out of a wheelchair in a medical setting, purportedly due to negligence of staff, does not fall within the purview of medical negligence.

    Dr. SM Kantikar, the Presiding Member of NCDRC, however added a word of caution for the hospital authorities to make "systematic improvement" in their administration and their grievance redressal mechanism to ensure patient's safety and maintain good Doctor-Patient relationship. The Commission noted,

    "The Hon'ble Supreme Court laid down the ingredients of medical negligence in its various judgments, none of which are found in the instant case. In my view, prima-facie, this case does not fall strictly in medical negligence."

    It added,

    "Wheelchairs are usually thought of as a medical device that is meant to help those who are injured or have physical challenges; they can also be a source of injury when not properly used. Most wheelchair injuries that happen in a medical setting due to the negligence of medical staff and such could be easily prevented by Hospital or nursing home."

    In this case, the patient came to the P.D. Hinduja National Hospital for a follow-up checkup after her spinal surgery. The Petitioner's case is that she was wheeled very rashly and negligently from the hospital corridor on the ramp by an unidentified security guard without putting on the seat belt. This lead to her 'head on fall' from the wheelchair and she sustained a fracture on her left ankle. The Petitioner further alleged that immediate first aid was not given, and she was made to stand in que for payment of X-Ray charges which caused further pain and agony. As per the Petitioner's case, the incident was reported immediately to the Hospital authorities, but no relief was received.

    The Hospital admitted the patient's fall from the wheelchair, however, it stated that she was treated as per standards immediately by the junior treating doctor and later by Dr Sanjay Agarwal, the treating doctor. The Hospital denied any valid claim for compensation and/or refund of previous treatment expenditure, calling it 'imaginary and highly exaggerated.'

    Before the District Forum, the claim was partly allowed directing the Hospital to pay Rs. 1,00,000/- as compensation and Rs. 10,000/- towards the cost of legal proceedings to the patient. The hospital's appeal against the order before the State Commission was dismissed with costs of Rs. 25,000/-. the State Commission also modified the order of District Forum, directing the Hospital to pay Rs. 3,51,000/- to the patient within one month failing, the amount was to carry interest at the rate of 9% per annum.

    The Hospital, being aggrieved by the earlier orders, approached the NCDRC by way of this Revision Petition under Section 21 (b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The NCDRC upheld the earlier order of the State Commission. It observed,

    "In the instant case, having regard to the fact that the patient underwent mental agony and physical trauma and the quantum of award made by the State Commission appears just and equitable in the facts of the case. No palpable crucial error in appreciating the evidence by the two fora below, as may cause to require de novo re-appreciation in revision, is visible."

    The Court also held that there is neither any jurisdictional error nor any legal principle has been ignored, or miscarriage of justice is visible.

    Case Title: PD Hinduja National Hospital & Medical Research Centre v. Harsh Ashok Lal

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