Doctor Ordered to Pay Rs 25 Lakhs in Damage after 18 Years of Women's Death


Divya Goyal    12 December 2022

The apex court has ordered a Patiala-based doctor to pay a compensation of Rs 25 lakh and indicted him for "medical negligence." The verdict came 18 years after the death of a 47-year-old woman from Patiala, who died after complications from gallbladder stone removal surgery. The court ordered Dr. Gurmit Singh, a laparoscopic surgeon who runs Preet Surgical Centre & Maternity Hospital in Patiala, to pay the compensation.


In their verdict, the judicial body stated that "having examined the evidence, medical grounds, and the report of the ethics committee of the Medical Council of India, it was a case of medical deficiency of service." However, the court stated Dr. Atul Mishra, professor, department of surgery, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Ludhiana, was guilty of any medical negligence when the patient was taken for treatment after her condition had deteriorated at the Patiala hospital.


Based on the report provided by the ethics committee of the then-present MCI, the supreme court stated that Dr. Gurmit Singh failed to exercise adequate medical competence in treating the patient, as is apparent from the following points: (a) There was a large bowel perforation after the laparoscopic operation. This complication, though not known in the normal course of time, had occurred in this particular case. This complication could have been prevented if care had been exercised during the procedure. (b) More importantly, he has failed to suspect the occurrence of complications despite the following warning signs and symptoms: (i) The patient was not recovering after the operation. ii) The patient’s condition was increasingly deteriorating. iii) There was a strong indication of a complication occurring after the procedure, but his failure to detect all these conditions led to a delay in the diagnosis of perforation of the bowel.


In his plea, Mr. Harnek Singh stated that his wife, Manjit Kaur (47), had developed abdominal pain and was diagnosed with gallbladder stones. On approaching Dr. Gurmit Singh for treatment, he recommended that surgery was needed. He performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and placed a drain in the patient’s abdomen, following which the patient complained of abdominal pain and distension. The drainage tube showed a discharge of green-colored fluid, which later turned greenish-brown. On informing him, he explained that such fluid was expected; however, the patient’s situation became very severe, and she complained of abdominal distension, pain, and difficulty breathing.


As a result, the patient was shifted to the DMCH Ludhiana and referred to Dr. Atul Mishra. However, Dr. Gurmit Singh did not provide any detailed patient records or operation notes, stating that the patient’s condition had been adequately explained to doctors at DMCH. Dr. Mishra stated that there was an iatrogenic injury to the bile duct caused by the previous surgery. A CT scan further revealed a moderate intra-abdominal and sub-phrenic collection. Since the patient was suffering from multiple ailments like pneumonia, high blood pressure, and coagulopathy, immediate surgical intervention was not advised, but her condition kept deteriorating, and she went into multi-organ failure, including failure of the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and renal system.

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