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Satbir Singh Vs. Apna Hospital and Ors. - (National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission) (29 Jun 2020)

Doctor is not liable for negligence, if he performs his duty with reasonableness and with due care



The Complainant Satbir Singh ('the patient') while attending marriage of his friend due to fire cracker explosion suffered burn/crush injury to his right foot. He was taken to Apna Hospital (Opposite Party (OP)-1). OP-2 Doctor examined him and performed surgery for debridement of the right foot with Kirschner wires (K-wires) insertion in 1st and 2nd toe. However, patient did not get relief. The OP-2 and 3 assured that everything had gone smoothly and nothing to worry. It was alleged that, the hospital (OP-1) discharged the patient without proper follow-up advice or precautions. The OP-2 issued a fitness certificate as "fit to travel anywhere" on the letter head of the hospital. During travel, the swelling was started in his right foot and he had pain beyond control. Soon after arrival in Australia, the Complainant got admitted in a Fremantle Hospital. It was alleged that, though the burn injuries being highly prone for infections, the OP-2 and 3 did not prescribe any precautions at the time of discharge. Thus, it was gross error on the part of OP-2 and 3 who have not failed to treat the patient's injury with skill and care.

Being aggrieved by negligent treatment and post-operative care given by OP-1, 2 and 3, the complainant filed a complaint before this commission under Section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 ('the Act, 1986') and prayed compensation of Rs. 1,50,11,941 for his alleged permanent disability, mental agony and harassment which he suffered.

It was the blatant misconception of the complainant that Orthopaedic surgeon is not qualified or competent to deal with these types of injuries. It is pertinent to note that, OP-2, being an Orthopaedic Surgeon having experience of two decades was competent to treat such accidental fracture injuries in the foot. The role of plastic surgeon comes at later stage after the cure of initial wound infection.

In the instant case, OP-2 had done his duty with care and caution. Nothing was wrong to do k-wire insertion and then after healing of wound patient was to be referred to Plastic Surgeon. There is no breach of duty of care from the OP-2 which caused resultant injury to the Complainant.

The mode of treatment and skill differ from doctor to doctor. The doctor is not liable for negligence, if he performs his duty with reasonableness and with due care. Based on the entire treatment records and the evidence of the parties, the OP-2 treated foot injury the patient as an accepted line of treatment. The k-wiring procedure was correctly performed and patient was treated with proper antibiotics and other medicines. There is no fault with the operation or treatment given by OP-2. The sufferings of patient were due to severe wound infection caused due his own fault. He did not follow post discharge instructions of OP-2 and moreover he travelled a long distance (more than 10 hours). The complaint is untenable and ill-conceived. Complaint is dismissed with cost.


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