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Doctor liable for acts of his team assisting in rendering treatment, says NCDRC


Press Trust of India New Delhi
A doctor is "vicariously liable" for his team which assists him in rendering treatment, the apex consumer commission has said while directing the treating doctors and hospital to pay Rs 16 lakh to a couple who lost their daughter, a cancer patient, after she was administered injection wrongly.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) held the hospital and the treating doctors guilty of medical negligence and said that they were liable for the death of the three-year-old girl who was suffering from blood cancer.
The commission noted that the girl was administered an injection wrongly which deteriorated her situation eventually leading to her death in July, 2004.
"We are of the considered view that the doctor is vicariously liable for the acts of his team which assists him in every sphere in rendering treatment to the patient," said the commission's bench comprising President R K Agrawal and member M Shreesha.
"Keeping in view the deposition, the discharge summary, the treatment record and the expert opinion we are of the considered view that there was negligence on behalf of the Hospital and the treating Doctors in administering Vincristine to the Patient intrathecally," the bench further said.
Its order came in the case of Arshiya, daughter of a Ludhiana-based couple Prashant and Anjali Sareen, who was being treated for blood cancer in Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation Hospital there.
She was being treated under Raman Arora, head of the Medicines Department who was being assisted by Vandana Bhambri and Harjit Singh Kohli. He prepared a written protocol of the treatment as per which Arshiya had to be given four cycles of chemotherapy.
The treatment had to include 11 injections of a chemotherapy drug Vincristine which was to be given intravenously, through veins, and 14 injections of the drug was to be administered intrathecally, via an injecting into the spinal canal.
As per the complaint, Kohli and Bhambri committed gross negligence, although they knew that wrong administration would prove fatal.
It also said that upon reporting the mistake to Arora, he along with the other assisting doctors had said that the medicine would ultimately reach the stomach and it does not matter as to how it was administered.
Satish Kumar, one of the directors of the hospital was contacted to take some remedial action, but he said it did not make any difference as the patient was already suffering from cancer and would not live for more than five years, as per the complaint.
The doctors had also made Arshiya's parents to buy an injection of Rs 4,80,000 which they later refused to administer saying the patient was too young for the same.
The commission said that failure of the doctors to act in accordance with medical standards in vogue and failure to exercise due care and diligence are deemed to constitute "medical negligence".
The commission also called as "callous" the argument given by the doctors that the patient would die anyway.
It said that since the entire standard protocol was given by Arora and the entire treatment was rendered under his care, he is liable for any commission or omissions by his team who assisted him in rendering treatment.

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First Published: May 30 2019 | 7:55 PM IST

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