Claims of medical negligence are being made without justification across the nation. In this context, a recent ruling that an unsuccessful surgery is not negligence comes as a huge relief to doctors. It’s worth looking at the case that prompted such a ruling.


Satender Kumar fractured his right leg from a fall at home on June 14, 2012. After being rushed to the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi, he was operated on the same day by Dr Raju Vaishya. During the surgery a rod was inserted in his leg. He was discharged a few days later. Later, on May 23, 2014, Kumar had an accident as a result of which he had a fracture on his left leg. Once again taken to the same hospital, he was operated by the same doctor and was discharged from the hospital in three days.

However, Kumar wasn’t satisfied with the surgery. He underwent yet another surgery on April 9, 2014 on the right leg after which he was discharged in a couple of days. As per Satender, from January 2016 he has suffered pain in the left leg and had difficulty in walking. Once again he consulted Dr Vaishya as also other doctors who advised him to have the left leg re-operated. Following their advice he underwent the surgery at Saket City Hospital. It was performed by Dr. Sadhoo.

In August 2016, Satender filed a consumer complaint against the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital and Dr Raju Vaishya in the National Commission. He claimed that he was not able to attend work for four years. According to him the rod that was inserted in his right leg got bent and there was negligence in the treatment. For the negligence, the compensation that he sought was Rs.2 crores.


One of the observations that the commission made was that even though the apparent negligence occurred in 2012, the complaint was filed four years later. Another observation was that according to the discharge summary recorded by Dr Vaishya, Satender was comfortable at the time of discharge. The subsequent operation that was done in 2014 was for non-union of the fracture though the implant was already in place. Bone grafting was done in this surgery. Once the bone had united, the road got removed. The commission came to the conclusion that there existed no evidence to show that the rod got bent or that the doctor was negligent.

Satender, who was 66 years old had both a history of hypertension and heart problem. Also, it’s known that non-union of a bone could occur in fracture surgeries, and it could also occur due to different health and medical reasons. For this reason, it would be improper to make the inference of medical negligence.

Negligence is usually determined based on the doctor’s qualification and the procedure that has been adopted to treat the patient. In this case, Dr Vaishya was a qualified orthopedic surgeon who followed the standard and accepted procedure and practice while treating Satender.

Following this reasoning, the National Commission ordered on November 30 that there was no negligence. The commission also deprecated the idea of blaming a doctor without sufficient justification just because the outcome of a treatment wasn’t favorable.

Conclusion: A doctor must treat according to the standard and accepted norms that are based on medical knowledge which exist at the relevant time. The treatment’s success or failure is irrelevant.

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