The national consumer disputes redressed commission has said that if a patient dies or sustains a permanent ailment despite due care being provided by a doctor, the doctor can’t be held guilty of medical negligence.

The ruling came against an appeal made against a hospital in Chennai for medical negligence. The commission said that what matters in such cases is whether the patient was provided treatment by the doctor in consonance with the medical profession.

The accusation

According to the complainant PK Palanisamy, his son K P Mohanavelu- 39 years old at the time was down with a fever when he was taken to the Sakthi Hospital and Research Centre, Triplicane on August 8, 2010. However, the fever returned just about a week later and he has to be taken to the hospital again. This time around the doctors prescribed anti-malarial drugs but it didn’t yield any result.

Admitting the patient to the ICU the doctors tested him for typhoid. They referred him to the Government General Hospital on September 7. Unfortunately, the patient died three days later after which his father moved Chennai’s consumer disputes redressal forum seeking compensation for medical negligence.

According to him the doctors had misdiagnosed the case since Mohanavelu had H1N1 virus. The doctors failed to conduct the necessary swab tests. He argued that they violated the MCI’s code of ethics. But when the petition was dismissed by the state commission, Palanisamy filed an appeal with the national commission.

As per the hospital’s counsel it wasn’t a case of misdiagnosis of H1N1. The patient was treated with caution and care. While he suffered from a fever and cough, he didn’t have a sore throat. As per the guidelines prescribed by WHO and the ministry of health and family welfare “categorization of Influenza A H1N1 cases during screening for home isolation, testing treatment and hospitalization, the patient didn’t show any symptoms whatsoever that necessitated a test for H1N1 infection.

The ruling

The bench said that since the patient didn’t have a sore throat or blood in sputum, the doctor’s provisional diagnosis was of suspected malaria, viral fever and thyphoid.

Also, the patient’s wife had admitted that he was stable at the time of discharge. However, after a short period elapsed, he developed symptoms of H1N1 infection. The doctors then tested him for the virus and referred him to the Government General Hospital. The bench said that the hospital had followed government and WHO guidelines.

Since no negligence was found in either the diagnosis or the treatment, the appeal was dismissed.

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