Compensation for Deficiency of Services by a Doctor

August 27, 2019
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in the case of Dinesh Joshi v Dr. Geeta Jindal Aarogya & Anr. awarded INR 3,00,000 (USD 4300 approx) as compensation to Dinesh Joshi for unfair trade practices. NCDRC held that the doctor was not only “negligent” in treating the patient but had also wrongly billed the victim for the “treatment that was never rendered” and therefore, it amounted to an unfair trade practice.

Brief Facts:

  • On October 04, 2011 Dinesh Joshi (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Complainant’) got severe pain and visited Dr. Geeta Jindal Aarogya (hereinafter referred to as ‘treating doctor’), who examined the Complainant and gave some medicines stating that the Complainant was suffering from fissures and assured him that the pain would decrease within two days.
  • On October 06, 2011, the Complainant again contacted the treating doctor and informed her about his condition. But the treating doctor called back the Complainant only at 10.30 p.m. as she was out of station.
  • Next day, at about 6 a.m., the Complainant rushed to the treating doctor in severe pain. It was averred that the Complainant was admitted and treated with. It was further averred that the treating doctor visited him only once or twice during his stay.
  • Later on an amount of INR 36,450/- (approx. USD 532) was charged towards his treatment, though the Complainant was assured that the expenses would not exceed INR 6,000/- (USD 88 approx) to INR 7,000/- (USD 102 approx) for the entire treatment.
  • The Complainant was asked to deposit some more money, but when he was not ready to do the same, he was discharged on October 12, 2011.
  • He was also charged 1850/- for tests of HV/TLC.DLC whereas the rates in any lab is only 250/-. He was additionally charged 12,500/- towards ICU charges, where he was never admitted in the ICU.
  • That after discharge, the Complainant went to Gokul Hospital, where an ultrasound was done at the scanning centre and the report showed that there was localised fluid collection.
  • After examining the report the concerned doctor was satisfied and called the Complainant on October 13,2011 at 6.00 a.m. and operated the Complainant and drained 600 ml pus and discharged him on the very next day i.e. October 14,2011.
  • Subsequent to the treatment rendered at Gokul Hospital the Complainant felt relief.

The Complainant lodged a Complaint with the higher medical authorities including the Director General of Health Services, Haryana against the treating doctor and a medical board was constituted.Anenquiry was conducted on April 12, 2013 and the board without going into the merits gave their report in favour of the treating doctor. Hence the Complainant approached the District Forum seeking the following relief:-
a) The O.P. No. 1 be directed to refund the amount charged from the Complainant on account of wrong and unnecessary treatment i.e. 36,450/- alongwith interest @ 18% per annum from the date of receipt till realization
b) The Ops be directed to pay 5,00,000/- on account of pain, suffering and mental agony suffered by the complainant at their hands.
c) 10,000/- on account of expenses of the litigation.

An amicus curie was also appointed by the National Commission in the present case.

Complainant’s contention:
• No incision and drainage was performed by the treating doctor.
• He was never put in an ICU but instead ICU charges of Rs. 12, 500 were billed which amount to unfair trade practice.
• The bill showed that Rs. 11,200 were charged towards drugs and disposals which is an inflated bill as ‘Central Line,’ is required only when the patient is injected medicine through cannula. The Complainant was never put on the Central Line and thus the question of Complainant being in the ICU never arose.
• Therefore, the Medical Board’s report stating that the Complainant was in an Air Conditioned (AC) room with oxygen supply, crash cart, defibrillator etc. is completely false

Opposite Party’s (Treating doctor) contentions:
• The treating doctor denied that any assurance was given to the Complainant that he would be alright in two days
• That the Complainant did not come at 10:30 p.m., but only came on the next morning i.e. October 07,2011 and was admitted and he was told that the expenses would be 6,000/- to 7,000/- per day but not for the entire treatment
• The Complainant was diagnosed as a case of cellulites, which is treated with antibiotics, but if pus is formed it required minor surgery i.e. incision and drainage
• The Complainant was admitted and given antibiotics and pain killers together with hot fermentation which helped in resolving cellulites
• The Complainant did not respond to routine antibiotics and therefore higher antibiotics which were expensive were suggested.
• It was denied that the Complainant was under the care of nursing staff and that there was no proper supervision by the treating doctor
• It was also denied that the bills given were overrated but in fact were raised as per actual consumption.

The Opposite Party No.3 i.e. the Scanning Centre also filed its written statement stating that the Complainant approached the Ultrasound Centre on prescription of Dr. Subhash Sharma. Further, in the Ultrasound examination it was concluded that there was no significant localized collection of fluid.
The Opposite Party No.2 i.e. New India Insurance Company in its written submission stated that the treating doctor was covered under the professional indemnity policy from the time period July17,2010 to July 16,2011 for a lump sum limit of Rs. 10,00,000.
The Opposite Party No. 4 i.e. United India Insurance Company in its written submission stated the scanning centre was covered by the professional indemnity policy from the time period October 01,2010 to October 31,2010 and there was no deficiency of service on their behalf, therefore the Complaint should be dismissed.

Court’s Analysis:

  • The District Forum based its finding on the Medical Board’s report dated April12, 2013, wherein it was stated that the treatment rendered by the treating doctor was in accordance with the medical practice and literature and allowed the Complaint in part and exonerated the treating doctor.
  • Aggrieved by the said order the Complainant filed an Appeal before the State Commission. The State Commission was in concurrence of the finding of the District Forum and held that the report of the medical board was in line with the medical books and literature and it was the best piece of evidence available in the matter. No evidence was led by the Complainant explaining how the Medical Board’s report was wrong. Therefore, it was held that there was no negligence on part of the respondents/opposite parties while treating the Complainant.
  • Thereafter, the Complainant filed a revision petition in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The National Commission allowed the Revision petition of the Complainant and held that the treatment rendered by the treating doctor was not according to the standards of normal medical parlance. No pre-investigative changes were performed to check the sugar levels of the patient as there was direct nexus between diabetes, cellulites and the treatment thereon. It was also held that the Complainant was billed for a blade, surgical, gloves, micro set and other materials which are used for surgery, whereas no surgery was performed in his case. There was no evidence to show that the Complainant was ever put in an ICU, therefore the Complainant was wrongly billed and it amounts to unfair trade practice. The State Commission directed the treating doctor to pay Rs. 3,00,000 as compensation for mental agony and pain, medical expenses and inflated billing. Since the treating doctor was covered by the Indemnity Policy, the New India Insurance Company was directed to pay this amount. The order of the District Court and State Commission directing the Scanning Centre to pay Rs. 20,000 with interest @ 9% p.a. for deficiency of services to be paid by United India Insurance Company attained finality.
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