Hospital is liable for the quality of implants purchased under it’s name on the invoice says court

January 18, 2024

Evidently, in most instances, implants / equipment needed for surgery are bought by the hospitals / doctors on patients’ behalf. The healthcare providers would be well-advised that the responsibility to purchase implants / equipment of accepted standard / quality is theirs. Any deviation could be construed as negligence, as happened in this case.

Irrefutable Facts

The patient suffered severe injuries on his left hand from Road Traffic Accident. He was admitted to the hospital.

The doctor diagnosed multiple fractures in the left hand from shoulder to elbow and advised surgery. Accordingly, the patient underwent surgery and a plate was implanted.

About five months later, the patient complained of unbearable pain in the operated hand and again consulted the doctor. The doctor informed that the implanted plate had broken and advised repeat surgery to implant a new plate. The patient consulted another doctor who performed bone grafting and implanted a new plate. The patient recovered thereafter.

The patient sued doctor and hospital. His main allegation was that the implanted plate broke due to its inferior quality.

The patient also pointed out that the doctor and hospital were responsible and involved in purchase of the plate and that he was not aware of its purchase or the manufacturer.

Doctor’s Plea

The doctor and hospital stated in defence that patient had purchased the plate and therefore he was aware of the manufacturer and yet, the manufacturer was not made a party in this case for plate’s inferior quality.

It was also stated that surgery was completed successfully and post-surgery X-ray revealed that the plate was fixed properly.

Court’s Observations

The court after perusal of plate’s retail invoice found that it was issued in hospital’s name, and commented that the “patient being a layman has not any knowledge about the quality of such biomaterial” and that these are usually purchased by the hospital / doctor.

The court held that hospital had purchased the plate for surgery and “there was no contract between the patient and manufacturer of the plate”.

Both, the hospital and doctor, were held negligent.  

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

  1. Hospitals / doctors must always buy equipment / implants / products of standard quality. They will be held liable if the equipment / product is not of the expected standard as demonstrated in this case.
  2. Hospitalized patients / attendants insisting to purchase their own medicines and / or implants is not uncommon today. There are risks involved in such purchases but then the law permits the patients to do so and the liability, if any, that arises due to any defects in such purchases will also lie with the patient only. The only precaution that needs to be taken by hospitals / doctors in such cases is to take such requests in writing from the patient / attendants and document this fact specifically in medical records.


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Source : Siddharth Yagneshbhai Panchal v/s Sanjivani Super Speciality Hospital Pvt. Ltd. & Ors.