Staff Reporter

Challenges the award of compensation of Rs.7 lakh to a patient by Single Bench of the court

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has dismissed an appeal by Batra Hospital in South Delhi challenging the award of a compensation of Rs.7 lakh to a patient by a Single Bench of the Court saying that the “duty of care in case of hospitals is not limited to diagnosis and treatment but extends to providing safe and secure place to ensure that the patients do not injure themselves”.

However, it allowed an appeal by the victim seeking enhancement of the compensation amount by fixing it at Rs.11 lakh with interest at the rate of 12 per cent.

The patient, Ashish Kumar Majumdar, had jumped out of the window of the third floor of the hospital losing mobility below the waist completely. He was admitted there for treatment of typhoid.

He claimed in his suit before the Single Bench that at the time of the incident he was in delirium following administering of a drug to him by the doctor treating him. His sister was staying along with him at the hospital as an attendant.

The hospital authorities opposed the Single Judge Bench order on the ground that they were not responsible for the incident and the injuries caused to the patient as he was being taken care of by her sister. They further submitted that they were responsible beyond diagnosis and treatment.

However, the Single Bench had dismissed their plea and awarded the compensation to him.

The patient, a junior assistant in a branch of the Punjab National Bank here, in his suit submitted that due to the immobility following the injuries he has been confined to the wheel-chair and would require an attendant for his whole life.

His career prospects had also been affected due to the injuries.

Upholding and quoting extensively excerpts from the Single Bench’s ruling, a Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice Sunil Gaur said: “It is not uncommon that patients who are sick or under medication can become delirious, incoherent or act in a manner which would be harmful and not in their interest. Patients under the influence of drugs/medicines due to high fever, nature of disease or psychological reasons need not obey instructions/advise of doctors, can become disoriented and lose ability to decide what is right or wrong. Reasonable foresight predicates that hospitals should be conscious and aware that mishaps or injuries can result to a patient and keep supervision and surveillance to check, prevent and protect patients from doing anything or acting in a manner which might cause harm to themselves or even others. Instances when a patient in a delirium or in psychosis cannot be regarded as farfetched or beyond reasonable comprehension”.

Plaintiff

“The defendant-hospital therefore was aware and had duty to take care that the plaintiff does not act in a manner by which he would injure and cause harm to himself. The defendant-hospital owed this duty of care to the plaintiff. It is, therefore not possible to accept the contention of the defendants that they did not owe duty to take care of the plaintiff beyond the diagnosis and treatment,” the Bench further observed.

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