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The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCRDC) has ordered Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre to pay Rs 30 lakh in a 2004 medical negligence case where a patient, who was operated for colon cancer in the hospital, went into coma and stayed in that state for almost three years.
A bench, including President Justice R K Agrawal and member M Shreesha, directed the two doctors working at the hospital to pay another Rs 1 lakh stating that they hold the duty of care which 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 was found that the total expenses were Rs 16.93 lakh, excluding a mediclaim of Rs 3.75 lakh.
The patient named RanjitToprani was admitted on June 26, 2004, and was operated for “carcinoma of the sigmoid colon”. As per the complaint registered, 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.
But, Toprani was shifted to the post-operative ICU and the relativeswere informed that it was being done to keep the patient under observation. After a day, Torpani complained of lack of sleep and pain in the abdomen and requested for a pain killer. Further, he complained of throat pain, breathlessness and a chocking sensation.
His family members claimed that the daily notes of the anesthetist showed that the patient was supposed to be shifted to the ward but 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 and had to be resuscitated when he was in the ICU. The family requested the attending doctor to call a cardiologist immediately and administer the required treatment, but they were informed that they have to wait for the intensivist to call the cardiologist.
Family members also claimed that the cardiologist was unavailable and did not turn up for long time. After two and half hours, he was shifted out of the ICU on the third floor to another one on the 12th floor. The patient apparently suffered brain injury and after staying in ICU for almost five months, he was shifted to his home. In the discharge card summary, it was mentioned that the ‘patient is unconscious in a vegetative state’. Later, the patient passed away.