Court gives doctor chance to redeem himself in a case of obvious negligence - Are Indian courts pro-doctors?

July 27, 2023

What is the purpose of medical laws and are courts only there to protect patients’ interest? Does law exist solely to punish doctors? This seems to be a common complaint amongst doctors – that courts are always biased against them.

In similar cases, as this one, wherein doctors were held negligent by applying the legal doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor (the thing speaks for itself – the wrong done by doctor is evident and needs no proof from patient), Court has given the doctor an opportunity to prove his actions in this case, despite the apparent negligence.

So, are Courts really biased against doctors, or are they pro-doctors? Read on… 

Irrefutable Facts

The patient had complaints of abdominal pain, and hence consulted the doctor at a hospital. She underwent total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy.

Six days after discharge the patient complained of pain in the abdomen. The doctor prescribed some medicines, but to no avail.

Due to persistent pain, the patient consulted at another hospital, where USG report revealed ‘Fibro Fatty Mesenteric Mass’ in the abdominal cavity possibly associated with a foreign body. The patient underwent surgery for the removal of the mass which was a surgical mop.

The doctor was sued by patient. She alleged that mop left behind in her abdomen caused medical complications and required another surgery. 

Doctors’ Plea

The doctor pointed out that the lower court did not seek expert opinion to determine whether the USG report’s finding ‘foreign body is nothing but a gauze cloth’ was correct or not.

Court’s Observations

The State Consumer Commission accepted doctor’s submission, and also cited a Supreme Court ruling while directing the lower court to seek expert opinion to confirm USG’s findings.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

  1. Make and adhere to protocols to account for surgical equipment, mops. etc. in order to avoid any mishaps. Take corrective actions immediately if any such incident is noted
  2. This case was obvious negligence yet the court remanded the case back to District Court and gave another chance to the doctor to redeem himself by seeking expert opinion to evaluate the case again. The order of the Hon’ble State Consumer Commission, in this case, is clearly erroneous. This was an open and shut case of negligence in view of the USG report and discharge summary of the hospital where the mop was subsequently removed. There was no need for an expert opinion as directed by the court.

Source : 15MLCD (j39) Dr. Veena Panda v/s Bijayshree Singh & Anr.

Subscribe to this Case