The Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has overturned a District Forum order on a case of medical negligence, and awarded compensation to the family of a woman who died in 2006.

The complainant, P Balasubramaniam, said his mother, Thulasiammal, had been admitted to the Sree Abirami Hospital in Coimbatore with stomach ache. He was told she needed surgery, but was not given any details. He was also allowed to see his mother only after repeated requests, by which time he felt her condition had turned very serious. He then shifted her to another hospital, where he was told that no surgery had been performed on Thulasiammal. Doctors at the second hospital treated her, but she subsequently died.

When Balasubramaniam took the case to the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, the Sree Abhirami Hosptial contended in its defence that Thulasiammal had been brought with abdominal pain, vomiting and fever, and doctors had informed her family that her condition was serious. Surgery had not been performed as the patient was not in a fit state to withstand the procedure and “there was risk of complications because of surgery under general anaesthesia.” Also, her condition was such that it was not possible to take any definite line of treatment, the hospital said.

Thulasaiammal had died after surgery at a different hospital, and as such they could not be held guilty of medical negligence, Sree Abhirami Hospital representatives argued. The Forum had accepted the hospital’s contention.
Balasubramaniam had then moved the State Commission, which noted that the hospital had provided conflicting statements about Thulasiammal’s surgery, and also that no discharge summary was provided by the hospital.

They held Sree Abhirami Hospital guilty of negligence in service, and directed it to pay Balasubramiam Rs. 3 lakh as compensation for causing him mental agony, Rs. 1.6 lakh as medical expenses and Rs. 10,000 as case costs.


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