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South Bombay Hospital, two doctors to pay Rs 31 lakh for negligence
The Times of Inda, July 9,2019

The National Consumer Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has ordered Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre to pay Rs. 30 lakh in a 2004 medical negligence case wherein a patient, who was operated upon at the hospital for colon cancer, went into coma and remained in that state for almost three years.

A bench, comprising president Justice R K Agarwal and member M Shreesha, also directed tow doctors working at the hospital to pay another Rs. 1 lakh while observing: “ We hold that duty of care does not end with the surgery.” The NCDRC took into account the bills towards medical expenses during the patient’s eight months in the hospital as well as three years of coma. It found that the total expenses were Rs. 16.93 lakh, excluding a mediclaim of Rs. 3.75 lakh. “ We are of the view that awarding an amount of Rs. 30 lakh to be paid by the hospital would meet the ends of justice. We also award costs of Rs. 1 lakh to be paid by the doctors jointly,” it said.

The patient, Ranjit Toprani was admitted on June 26, 2004, and operated for “carcinoma of the sigmoid colon”. According to the complaint, the patient was certified fit for surgery by the in-house intensivist who had gone through Toprani’s medical history. After the surgery, the attendants and the patient were informed that the operation was successful and that Toprani would be transferred to the ward.

However, Toprani was shifted to the post-operative ICU and the kin was informed that it was being done to keep the patient under observation. A day later, Torpani complained of lack of sleep and pain in the abdomen and requested for a pain killer. Later, he complained of throat pain, breathlessness and a chocking sensation.

His family claimed that while the daily notes of the anaesthetist showed that the patient was supposed to be shifted to the ward, the doctor who operated on him in his report noted that he be shifted to the post-operative ICU. According to the complaint. Toprani suffered a bradycardia attack (slower than normal heart rate) and had to be resuscitated when he was in the ICU. The family requested the attending doctor to call a cardiologist immediately and administer necessary treatment, but they were informed that they would have to wait for the intensivist to call the cardiologist.

Family members claimed that the cardiologist was not turn up for long. After about two and half hours, he was shifted out of the ICU on the third floor to another one on the 12th floor. The patient allegedly suffered brain injury and after staying in ICU for almost five months, he was shifted to his home. In the discharge summary, it was stated that the ‘patient is unconscious in a vegetative state’. He later passed away.

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