NEW DELHI: The Delhi State Consumer Commission, in its judgment, made it essential for a hospital to disclose to the patients or their attendants, the line of treatment and the potential risks involved in it.
The judgment came in connection with the death of a 23-year-old student, who died during a treatment at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in 2004.
The commission’s judicial member, N P Kaushik, partly allowed the plea of the deceased’s father, Harish Kumar Chadha, who blamed the hospital for the death of his daughter, Anupama, and sought Rs 50 lakh compensation.
While the panel found no negligence on the part of the hospital, Kaushik pointed out, “No record shows if the patient or her attendants were disclosed information relating to the diagnosis of the disease, nature of the proposed treatment, potential risk involved and consequences of the patient refusing the suggested line of treatment. All these things are fundamental requirements of law. In every field of medicine, an informed consent is mandatory. Though emergency medical circumstances are an exception.” The commission then directed the hospital and the treating doctor to pay Rs 5 lakh to the family.
In July 2004, Anupama suffered from diarrhoea and had sought treatment from a private doctor. But when her condition worsened, she was brought to Indraprastha Apollo Hospital where Tarun Sahani was appointed her treating doctor including—R K Chopra, Prasad Rao and Mukul Verma. Four days later, Anupama was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and hemolytic anaemia.
Chadha claimed that Anupama was fit on July 28 and was about to get discharged the next day. However, he was later informed that her haemoglobin level was 7.1, and she needed blood, following which blood transfusion was carried out, though Anupama had 102 fever, he said. The steroids attacked the brain leading to her death, he alleged.
The hospital and Dr Sahani have submitted before the panel that Anupama’s condition warranted life saving measures and steroids had to be given. They also said that after the admission, routine investigations as well as evaluation for cause of anaemia were done.
A consumer forum, which heard the matter before the commission, received opinions from medical experts who said the allegations of medical negligence were not proved. However, they added that there was some degree of communication gap between the patient’s family and the doctor. The forum had granted Rs 25,000 compensation, but Chadha sought an enhancement.
The commission noted that the hospital’s communication could have prepared the family for the treatment and the risks involved. “SLE disease had several risks, including death. It should have been explained to the patient or her attendants. There is no consent obtained while transfusing blood,” it observed.