Doctor penalised for labour ward deaths

K.T. Sangameswaran

CHENNAI: The absence of adequate stock of blood and an ambulance in a hospital is deficiency in service, the State Consumer Disputes Redress Commission has said.

Directing a city doctor and a hospital to pay a Rs.-5 lakh compensation and costs of Rs. 2,500 to a man whose wife died after she delivered of a stillborn child in May 1998, the Commission held that the deaths occurred because of gross negligence and deficiency in service.

Accepting a complaint by one Sundaravelu of Guduvancheri against Dr. Vijayalakshmi, and Balaji Hospital, Tambaram West (opposite parties), the Commission Bench comprising the president, Justice A. Raman and member, Pon. Gunasekaran, said that as per the opposite parties own showing, it was clear there was no stock of blood.

`Precautions not taken'

There were no gadgets such as monitors and experts to handle emergency cases. The hospital did not even have an ambulance. The opposite parties failed to take precautions and exercise the standard care, the Bench said.

On the contention that the doctor had to attend a reception and could not return to the hospital in time due to a power breakdown and resultant traffic congestion, the Bench said that when the doctor left the hospital she ought to have ensured that the patient, in prolonged labour, was in safe hands and there was a competent doctor at her bedside to attend to any emergency.

The death of the child in the womb due to foetal distress got a direct link with deficiency on the part of the opposite party in not going in for surgery. The opposite party just allowed things to slide. There was nothing to show that the doctor had at any time monitored the foetal heart rate.

The patient developed fits and was delivered of a still-born child. Then she suffered post-partum haemorrhage.

There was no supply of blood to replenish the loss. A doctor from a nearby hospital was called in.

"But that cannot wash away the sin of deficiency committed by the opposite party."

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