IMA Legal Cell: Rs one crore compensation demanded for medical negligence According to a news story, an advocate of Bhilai has demanded more than Rs 1 crore inclusive of compensation and other amounts alleging medical negligence against three doctors in his complaint filed in Chhattisgarh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Pandri, Raipur. The Bhilai Steel Plant, Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital and Research Centre, Bhilai and three doctors in the Neurosurgery department of the hospital, have been made the five opposite parties in the case. According to the complaint, the complainant advocate is Rajesh Agrawal, 56 years, resident of Sector-1, Bhilai, whose wife is a Bhilai Steel Plant employee. He has maintained that he fell down accidentally in his home and suffered injuries, but went to the above mentioned hospital himself and had full sense while undergoing check-up. His blood pressure was normal and the only problem he had was pain on the lower part of vertebral column. The above mentioned doctors admitted him in the hospital. The complainant has further maintained that during the hospital stay and before surgery, he had full control over urination and defecation. After undergoing surgery, he was completely paralyzed from below the waist and he lost control over passing urine and stools. It was result of improper fixation of steel screw. The complainant further maintained that he is now completely dependent on his family members and has to incur heavy expenditure for treatment, medicines, physiotherapy and keeping an attendant. On the other hand, practicing the profession of advocate has been badly affected and he has to pass through financial difficulty. A total compensation Rs 99,60,000/- has been demanded on seven different counts of loss of earning capacity, physical disability, loss of income and others. Besides, interest on the amount at the rate of 18% yearly from the date of filing complaint, Rs 20,000 has also demanded. Points to defend • A proper written and preserved informed consent mentioning the possibilities of complications can be the main point of defence. The patient cannot allege that he was unaware about the prognosis of the surgery. If the surgery was complicated, or done as an emergency procedure or the patient was high risk or had comorbidities, the complications rates would be higher. • That the hospital had the required infrastructure to deal with complications. • That the surgeons were competent and were registered with the council. • That the hospital had been successfully carrying out similar surgeries in the past. • That the past track record of doctors and hospital was good. • That there had not been any complaint in the past against the hospital or the doctors. • That the doctors have been attending updated programs to enhance their skill and knowledge. • Enlist evidence from medical text books and research papers relating to the said complications. • Difference of opinion is not negligence. • Mere simple deviation from standard practice is not negligence. • Error of judgment is not negligence. • Gather experts who can testify that the line of treatment was accepted or standard. • Look for similar cases in which the doctor / hospital were held ‘not guilty’. • Report of hospital enquiry committee with internal experts. • Report of hospital ethics committee with external experts.