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Mrs. Kalyani Rajan vs. Indraprastha Apollo Hospital - (Supreme Court) (17 Oct 2023)

Sufficient medical evidence should be available before the adjudicating authority for applying the principles of Res Ipsa Locutor



The present appeal is directed against the order passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissionwhereby the complaint filed by the Appellant and proforma Respondent No. 3 under Section 2 (c)(iii) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was rejected.

The complainant-Appellant is the wife of the deceased patient namely, Sankar Rajan3, who was 37 years old and died in the hospital-Respondent no. 1 herein while undergoing follow up care and treatment after a major neurosurgery in the care of Respondent nos. 1 and 2. The deceased was under the employment of proforma Respondent no. 3 and was earning handsome annual package at the time of his demise.

It is significant to notice that, the patient did not have any history of diabetes or hypertension or any cardiac problem. Therefore, it was difficult for treating doctors including the duty doctor or the hospital to assume that the patient may suffer cardiac arrest and moreover, the patient had also not complained of pain in any other part of the body except neck region.

Recently, this Court in a judgment reported as Dr. Harish Kumar Khurana v. Joginder Singhheld that, hospital and the doctors are required to exercise sufficient care in treating the patient in all circumstances. However, in an unfortunate case, death may occur. It is necessary that sufficient material or medical evidence should be available before the adjudicating authority to arrive at the conclusion that death is due to medical negligence. Every death of a patient cannot on the face of it be considered to be medical negligence.

To indicate negligence there should be material available on record or else appropriate medical evidence should be tendered. The negligence alleged should be so glaring, in which event the principle of res ipsa loquitur could be made applicable and not based on perception.

The principlesof Res Ipsa Locutorget attracted where circumstances strongly suggest partaking in negligent behaviour by the person against whom an accusation of negligence is made. For applying the principles of Res Ipsa Locutor, it is necessary that a ‘Res’ is present to establish the allegation of negligence. Strong incriminating circumstantial or documentary evidence is required for application of the doctrine.

The case in hand stands on a better footing, as there was no mistake in diagnosis or a negligent diagnosis by Respondent no. 2. In the absence of the patient having any history of diabetes, hypertension, or cardiac problem, it is difficult to foresee a possible cardiac problem only because the patient had suffered pain in the neck region. The appellant has failed to establish negligence on the part of Respondents in taking post operative care and the findings in this regard recorded by the Commission does not suffer from any illegality or perversity. Appeal dismissed.


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