A Doctor, like any other professional can take leave if felt necessary by him
In a judgement (as below), the NCDRC has observed that a doctor can take leave, if he/she feels it necessary to do so.
Shri Manishbhai Kantilal Joshi vs Sheth P. T. Surat General Hospital, Surat
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, Consumer Case No. 366 of 2014
Hon'ble Mr. Justice V.K. Jain, Presiding Member and Hon'ble Dr. B.C. Gupta, Member
Dated: 09 Feb 2016
Order: Justice V.K. Jain, Presiding Member (Oral)
Late Shri Kanti Lal C. Joshi, aged about 86 years, father of the complainant was admitted in Sheth P.T Surat General Hospital (Opposite Party No.1) on 19.11.2012. He was admitted under another doctor, but later put under the treatment of Dr. Sameer Gami.
He expired at about on 21.11.2012 while on ventilator. In the night of 20.11.2012, he was under the care of Dr. S.S. Indorwala after Dr. Sameer Gami had retired for the day. Alleging negligence in the treatment of his father, the complainant is before this Commission seeking compensation quantified at Rs.2 Crores along with cost of litigation quantified at Rs.50,000/-.
When this complaint came up for consideration on 26.09.2014, the learned counsel for the complainant submitted that the main grievance of the complainant was that Dr. Sameer Gami had left for outstation when the deceased was still admitted in the hospital and was under his treatment, without giving the instructions to Dr. S.S. Indorwala, who otherwise was not a qualified specialist in the relevant field.
In his reply, Dr. Sameer Gami, who is a Chest Physician having obtained MBBS and MD degrees from B.J. Medical College, Ahmedabad, has inter-alia stated that the father of the complainant was suffering from chronic end stage disease, severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fibrotic lung lesion and bronchiectasis. He was admitted to the hospital under the treatment of one Dr. Ketan S. Choksi though he Dr Gami was also seeing the patient for the last few months as OPD patient.
The deceased had been taking nebulizer and home oxygen support for six months before his death. Lung transplant, which was only option available in such a case was not suitable for him, considering his advanced age and therefore he had been put on steroids.
He further stated in the reply that on account of critical sickness of his father in the evening of 20.11.2012, he planned to leave for out station and therefore he advised shifting the patient to ICU.
In the evening of 20.11.2012 due to critical condition of the patient, he was initially advised non-invasive ventilator support. However, when his condition deteriorating, he was put on invasive ventilator after taking consent from the complainant and the condition of the patient was explained to his family members before the said consent was obtained.
According to Dr Gami he last saw the patient at about on 20.11.2012. The patient died early in the morning of 21.11.2012 on account of having succumbed to long existing chronic end stage respiratory disease. It is stated in the reply that the patient was duly taken care of treating his treatment in the hospital and there was absolutely no negligence in the said treatment.
In their reply the hospital and Dr Indorwala have maintained the stand taken in the reply of Dr Gami and have stated that the patient was admitted with past history of Bilateral Centrilobulor Emphysemtous in the form of Hyperinflated lung with flattening of lobbes, Minimal subpleural opacity in the right upper lobe suggest fibrotic/old granulomatos lesion, Atherosierotic arotic changes and degenrative spinal changes along with Rounding of Trachear and filling defect in upper trachea.
It is however stated in the said reply that Dr Gami had treated the patient as per the standard protocol and practice but the patient succumbed to the chronic disease despite adequate treatment given to him. It is also stated in the said reply that Dr. S.S. Indorwala is a qualified doctor, who was employed on regular basis with the opposite party no.1.
The learned counsel for the complainant has submitted during the course of arguments that Dr gami left for outstation on 20.11.2012 itself without giving proper instructions to Dr Indorwala as regards the treatment of the patient and Dr Indorwala not being a Chest Specialist was not qualified to treat the patient.
We however find no merit in the contention.
It has come in the reply of Dr Gami that he had last seen the patient at about on 20.11.2012. The medical record clearly supports the stand taken by Dr Gami in this regard.
There is absolutely no evidence of Dr Gami having left for outstation on 20.11.2012. Be that as it may, even if we proceed on the assumption that DR Gami had taken leave and left for outstation on 20.11.2012 that by itself does not make out any negligence on his part in the treatment of the patient.
A Doctor, like any other professional can take leave if felt necessary by him on account of his personal reasons or otherwise.
If that happens it is for the hospital in which the patient is admitted to make alternative arrangement for the treatment of the patient in the hospital.
We have to keep in mind that the patient was admitted in a hospital and not in the clinic of Dr Gami.
Therefore, in the absence of Dr Gami the patient was to be treated by some other doctor available in the hospital or called by the hospital from outside. No case of negligence on the part of the Dr Gami is therefore made out even if we assume that he had left for outstation on 20.11.2012.
As far as briefing the other doctor who was to treat the patient in his absence, in our opinion, no such briefing would be necessary since the symptoms and diagnosis of the patient as well as the treatment being given to him in the hospital is recorded in the treatment record of the patient kept in the hospital and therefore any suitably qualified doctor attending the patient, in the absence of the previous doctor, would be in a position to advise appropriate treatment and medicines taking into consideration symptoms, conditions and illness of the patient along with the treatment given to him in the past.
So long as the doctor treating the patient in the absence of the previous doctor is a competent doctor he should have no difficulty in treating the patient on the basis of the record prepared in the hospital.
Therefore, Dr. S.S. Indorwala could have absolutely no difficulty in treating the patient in the absence of Dr. Sameed Gami.
In any case, this is not the case of Dr Indorwala in his reply that he was handicapped in any manner in the treatment of the patient on account of having not been adequately briefed by Dr. Gami. Therefore it is difficult for us to accept the contention that the leave taken by the Dr. Gami was responsible for the father of the complainant succumbing to the illness from which he was suffering.
As far as qualification of Dr Indorwala is concerned, we are informed during the course of hearing that he is an M.D. Being a Doctor of Medicine, he was competent to treat the father of the complainant, who was suffering from long ailments. It is not as if only a super specialist in chest related disease can treat such a patient.
A doctor, who has done Post Graduation in Medicine, in our opinion, is fully competent to treat the patient. In fact, in almost all the hospitals, Senior Doctors normally retire for the day in the evening/night and it is only Junior Doctor such as Junior Residents and Senior Residents who remain on duty. The consultant is called if necessary, depending upon the condition of the patient. Therefore, we are unable to accept the contention that Dr. S.S. Indorwala was not qualified enough to treat the father of the complainant in the absence of Dr. Gami.
In any case, as stated in the reply of Dr Gami he had last seen the patient at about on 20.11.2012. The patient died at about on 21.11.2012 i.e. within a span of 6 ½ hours after Dr. Gami had left the hospital. Dr. Gami could not have been expected to remain with the patient or in the hospital 24 hours of the day. Like other normal human being he also needs to take rest and his meals and then get ready for the duty to be performed on the next day. Therefore, there was no negligence on the part of Dr. Gami in leaving the hospital and the patient being treated by Dr. S.S. Indorwala in his absence.
For the reasons stated hereinabove, we find no merit in the complaint and the same is accordingly dismissed with no order as to costs.