Failure to diagnose a neck femur fracture: the Supreme Court orders St Stephens Hospital to pay Rs 5 lakh in compensation
New Delhi: Observing that a ‘failure in diagnosis of fracture neck femure resulted in an unfavourable outcome’ for a patient, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ordered the Delhi-based St Stephen’s hospital to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation, following an earlier District Commission order on the matter.
Setting aside the state commission’s decision to reduce the amount of compression, the top consumer court noted that the complainant had to undergo surgery twice after the operation at the treating hospital, which failed to permanently cure his physical condition.
"Considering the loss of earning capacity and future prospects, in our view, the compensation of Rs. 5.0 lac is just and fair," noted R.K Agarwal, President of NCDRC, and S.M. Kantikar.
The case concerned the patient who had suffered a road accident back in 2003 and sustained bodily injuries thereafter. After getting first-aid at a Government hospital, the patient was referred to the hospital where the treating doctor examined him and diagnosed him having a fraction of femure on the right side.
Following this, the patient had undergone surgery and a rod was implemented from his loin to the thigh. During the follow-up treatment, a second doctor at the treating hospital examined the patient again and assured that it would take some more time for everything to get cured.
However, as the pain didn't get reduced in May 2004, the complaint contracted another doctor who opined that there was a fracture of loin bone, and advise the patient to approach the same hospital where he was Where he was first operated on.
Meanwhile the family doctor of the complaint examined all the X rays of the patient and opined that the fracture had occurred during the first operation in the Operation Theatre of the treating hospital when the patient again approached the hospital, he was advised for bone grafting as there was an unsatisfactory union of bones, for which the complainant didn't agree.
Again the complainant came back to the hospital with the complaint of pain in the right hip and thigh. The X-ray revealed displaced intra-capsular fracture of neck femur and he was advised to undergo osteosynthesis - a valgus osteotomy and fixation with angle blade plate.
Unable to bear the cost of another operation the complainant approached a government hospital for further treatment.
Thereafter alleging medical negligence against the treating hospital, the complainant approached the District Forum and claimed a total amount of rupees 16,97,800/- as compensation. The patient contented that X-ray taken before the operation didn't show any intra capsular fracture of neck femur. However the X-ray taken after surgery within 24 hours clearly revealed the intra capsular fracture neck femur. Denying that the fracture of the loin bone had occurred during the surgery, the hospital submitted that the complaint was false, misconceived and not maintainable. The hospital further submitted before the district forum that the complaint was initially treated at a government hospital, wherein X-ray showed only fracture of femur shaft.
After hearing the contentions of both the parties, the District Forum party allowed the conplaint and directed the hospital to pay Rs. 5 lac to the complainant along with Rs 5,000 as a cost of litigation.
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