A leading healthcare centre in the city has been hauled up by a consumer court for failing to provide “proper medical service” that could have “led to loss of life”. The penalty: an unprecedented compensation slap of Rs 100,000.
On May 2, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum censured Woodlands Hospital and Medical Research Centre, in Alipore, for having conducted, in November 1999, an “erroneous and incomplete” test on a cardiac patient, Durga Prasanna Mukherjee, diagnosing him with a mild problem when his condition was serious.
After hearing both sides, the Forum, comprising P.C. Kundu, B.C. Gomes and Kakoli Nandi, concluded that Woodlands had admitted the allegations; the hospital was found to have faulted in rendering proper medical service to the patient; the faulty and incomplete report could have led to a loss of life.
In the four-page judgment, a copy of which is available with Metro, the Forum held Woodlands guilty of providing deficient services to the patient, causing severe mental, physical and financial harassment, and awarded Mukherjee a Rs-100,000 compensation. “When there is a question of life and death, the amount of care which is to be undertaken by any doctor or medical institution should be of a higher degree, without question. If the doctor or the institution fails to do so, it will undoubtedly be counted as deficiency of service,” observed the Forum judges.
“I am afraid I have no direct knowledge of it,” said Dr Asim Bardhan, currently overseeing medical activity of Woodlands. “I shall be in a position to respond only after going through all the relevant details.” Rana Dasgupta, general manager, Woodlands, added: “I am rather new here, so I am not in a position to comment.”
A resident of Serampore, Mukherjee, a senior executive in a multinational company, had been shifted on doctors’ advice from a local clinic to Woodlands, where he had undergone on November 10, 1999, an angiography. In his petition, Mukherjee, who was 49 then, said he had experienced physical pain and discomfort when a trainee lady doctor had “clumsily handled the procedure”, prompting a senior doctor to step in. Mukherjee was released the next day.
The hospital gave the patient the angiography report and not the film, despite repeated requests. Mukherjee then approached Apollo Hospital, Chennai, where the attending doctors conducted a fresh angiography, detected serious artery blockades and performed an immediate bypass. “I could have died if I had depended on the Woodlands report,” said Mukherjee.
On returning to Calcutta, he lodged a complaint with the Woodlands authorities. The director of the centre, in a letter dated August 20, 2001, admitted the deficiencies in services rendered by Woodlands. Mukherjee then moved the Forum, demanding compensation.