3 Step Protocol to protect yourself in case of the escape of an IPD patient
In case an IPD patient leaves or escapes from the hospital/nursing home without being duly discharged and any untoward incident happens with the patient or the patient commits any illegal act after escaping, the following protocol will help in protecting the hospital and the doctors against the legal consequences arising from the same:
(1) Forthwith give a written intimation to the nearest police station about the same and take proper acknowledgement with time and date
(2) Next, send a letter to the patient by 'registered post acknowledgement due' at the address written in the admission form clearly recording that the patient has left without being discharged
(3) Duly preserve the police and postal acknowledgement with the patient's medical records
This protocol must be followed even in case of mentally unstable patient who may have simply escaped and the relatives/attendants/friends may also be searching for the patient
The patient's left arm was fractured when he was cultivating his fields and his tractor turned turtle. The patient was operated by the orthopaedic surgeon and a nail was inserted. Thereafter pus developed and severe pain occurred. The skin of the patient also started turning gangrenous. According to the patient, he was discharged whereas according to the orthopaedic surgeon, he escaped from the nursing home in the night. The patient thereafter got himself admitted to the Civil Hospital, Mansa where he was operated, the affected old nail was removed, a new nail was inserted and he was discharged.
Findings of the court
The court observed that as the patient had escaped, he might have developed pus and gangrene as he may not have taken antibiotics or may not have observed instructions as advised by the orthopaedic surgeon. Hence the orthopaedic surgeon was not held negligent.