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HomeLegal NewsHospital & Gynec held negligent on account of attendant negligence (Aayya)

Hospital & Gynec held negligent on account of attendant negligence (Aayya)

Compensation of Rs.10 lakhs ordered by consumer court

Hubballi: A new-born baby girl got burn injury when the Aayya (attendant) accidentally dipped the baby in hot water for bathing. The mishap led to the hospital and doctors including gynaecologist being held negligent by the District Consumer Court, Dharwad and a compensation of 10 Lakhs has been awarded to the complaint.

The facts of the case are that the complainant wife delivered a female child which was hale and healthy after delivery. While discharging the female child was taken for bath by the Aayya (attendant). As soon as the baby was dipped in hot water she started crying immensely and passed motion as she has suffered severe burn on the lower part of her body. As the Aayya got panicked she started rubbing the burnt skin of the child and subsequently she peeled the burnt skin of the child to hide the incidence. The complainant immediately called the consulting gynaecologist and after scolding the Aayya she convinced the complainant and his wife that nothing serious has happened and assured that she will take care of the child. On the request of gynaecologist the child was re-admitted. While treating the child the consulting dermatologist stated that the peeling of skin could have been due to Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) and the same was confirmed by the consulting paediatrician. The dermatologist advised the complainant genetic test of the child at Center for human genetics at Bengaluru. The complainant got suspicious and took DAMA and got the child admitted in SDM College of Medical Science and Hospital, Sattur Dharwad. In SDM the doctors started treating the child for burns and within a week the child was discharged.

The doctors submitted before the court that patient had bad obstetric history (Four abortions) and the child was pre-mature and weigh only 2 kg. They further submitted that during discharge the child passed motion and the Aayya brought luke warm water and washed the baby and during the process babies skin got discoloured and started peeling.  The Aayya got scared and brought it to the notice of gynaecologist who in turned called the paedetrician and dermatologist. The dermatologist after examining the child diagnosed it as Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) and advised skin biopsy of the child. Subsequently while the baby was under treatment the parents of the child took discharge against medical advice (DAMA) and did not pay Rs.25,200/- on account of treatment charges to the hospital. The hospital and doctor concluded that the complainant was making false and imaginary allegations against the doctors though the doctors tried their best to treat the child. The doctors also pointed out that the complainant has not taken expert opinion to prove his case. They further submitted that the complaint was filed with ulterior motive to harass, humiliate and extract money illegally from the hospital and doctors.

The court referred to “Text book – Dermatology 4th addition by S Sachidananda “ in its 2nd key notes states E.B. is probably one of the most devastating genodermatosis. At present there is no cure for EB. A multidisciplinary approach is needed for the effective management of EB. The court was of the view that if the baby was suffering from EB as diagnosed by the treating doctors then the skin of the affected part of the body would have been disfigured and the disfiguration would be permanent on the affected part of the body. But the baby after treatment in SDM hospital is not having any skin problem which clearly points out to the fact that the baby was not suffering from EB disease as urged by the doctors. The court view was that the doctors were in collusion  with each other and to hush up the mistake done by the Aayya they coloured the burning of skin of the baby to EB.

Also, the court pointed out that the doctors have taken the defense of necessity of experts opinion but then the doctors should have moved an application for subjecting the victim baby for genetic test or other expert opinions but they have not insisted which again points out that the need of expert opinion is not necessary. The court said that the hospital and the doctors were fully aware of the glaring mistake committed by the Aayya by not checking the hot water before dipping the child in it and hence the hospital and the doctors should have consoled the parents of the baby by giving proper treatment to the burn injuries of baby. Instead of offering treatment they have tried to colour it as E.B. which is a stigma to the victim baby and made the parents of the child to suffer mentally, physically and financially. The court held the hospital and doctors vicariously liable for the act of negligence of Aayya. The court awarded Rs. 10 Lakhs as compensation to the complainant along with Rs.58,949/- on account of medical expenses borne by the complainant.

Legal PrescriptionSOP should be there for non-medical staff in an hospital including Aayya’s and house- keeping staff and the hospital should ensure that it is strictly followedRegular training of the non-medical staff along with evaluation of their service standard should be done and the staff whose evaluation is below expected score should be replacedOnce a mishap happens never try to hush it aside and instead accept that a mistake has been done; note the mishap in medical records; inform the patient / patient relatives about the nature of mishap; consequences of the mishap should be explained to the patient / patient relative further and treatment required to treat the mishap If possible waive the fee of further treatment;  record the same in medical record as accepting a mishap and give free treatment to the patient is always appreciated by the courtThe diagnosis of a disease should be supported by medical literature and investigations reportThe patient/patient relatives should be informed about the disease only after the outcome of the investigation confirms the disease