HYDERABAD: The Ranga Reddy Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here has directed a private hospital and one of its consultant gastro-enterologists to pay Rs 4 lakh in compensation and medical expenses to a middle-aged woman for causing a tear in her colon during test and for failing to take immediate steps to repair the damage.
The woman, B Rajeswari (44), who was suffering from frequent bowel movements, was advised to undergo a test, colonoscopy, by Dr P Prabhakar of St Theresa’s Hospital on February 12, 2009. According to the patient, during the test she felt some excruciating pain and requested the lab assistants to not proceed further, but in vain. The procedure caused a 10-cm tear in her colon.
After the test, she developed further complications and as Dr Prabhakar was not available, Rajeswari’s husband met another doctor, Dr Reginald, with the slip given by Dr Prabhakar. Dr Reginald, after conducting necessary tests, confirmed that during the colonoscopy the intestines were punctured and suggested that immediate operation was needed as her condition was serious.
Suspecting that the tests did not go off smoothly, the woman’s husband took her to another private hospital and later to Gandhi Hospital where doctors performed an operation and repaired the tear.
As the patient was made to suffer physically, mentally and financially due to Dr Prabhakar’s alleged negligence, Rajeshwari approached the consumer forum and filed a complaint against the hospital and the consultant doctor claiming compensation and medical expenses for the botched-up tests.
The hospital, in its written submission to the forum, said that it was in no way responsible and denied any liability as the test was advised and conducted according to Dr Prabhakar’s instructions and claimed that there was no ‘negligence’ on their part. Prabhakar said the complaint was filed only with an intention to gain illegally and prayed for the petition’s dismissal.
However, the forum believed that the doctor was negligent in conducting the test and also deficient in his service as he failed to take immediate steps to repair the damage caused to the complainant. The bench also said that the hospital cannot be exempted from its liability as it is a known principle that hospitals are ‘vicariously’ liable for the acts of their doctors.
The bench, comprising president R Gopalakrishna Murthy and member IL Prasanthi, passed an order in favour of Rajeshwari and directed the respondents jointly and severally to pay an amount of Rs 4 lakh towards compensation and medical expenses, and to pay Rs 5,000 towards costs to the complainant.