#LegallySpeaking: Medico-Legal Tip
You have the right to refuse treatment when necessary infrastructure or proper consultants are not available.
The facts of the case briefly are that the patient was suffering from Metabolic Encephalopathy with disorientation and congested glaucoma, as a result of which almost all her vital organs of the body had been affected. Due to the severity of the case, she was admitted to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital. Before being admitted there she was under treatment of a doctor in Mitras clinic who also diagnosed her to be suffering from the said disease and advised for treatment in a hospital with superior medical facilities.
However, since Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital did not have a CT Scan facility, it immediately suggested for admission in another hospital. Later she was admitted to the Siliguri Nursing Home in a critical condition.
- The Respondent (son of the patient) contended that "...it was extremely disappointing for him to observe that the said nursing home did not take proper care by way of urgently calling experts for her diagnosis and treatment and instead, placed her under the care of Appellant No. 2 who is a general physician. A consultant neurologist and an eye specialist were urgently needed to attend to her ailing mother. But these specialists were called only in the following morning..."
- The Appellants(Nursing Home) in their written version as well as in their evidence contended that she was admitted at about 8.35 p.m. when it was difficult to bring a consultant to the nursing home for treatment of the patient. The following day being Sunday it was also difficult to conduct a CT scan of the patient. However, this was done on an urgent basis at 9 p.m. on the following day. But the patient who was suffering from various complications could not withstand minimum hassle even for going to the CT Scan centre and coming back to the nursing home and immediately after returning to the nursing home she expired.
- The Appellant/Nursing Home should not have admitted her at all if they did not have the required facilities
- The court did not accept the allegation regarding the wrong treatment of the patient but said that "...in spite of not having necessary infrastructure they did a disservice by admitting the patient at that odd hours when her survival was facing a big question mark in view of her critical condition. The Appellants, therefore, cannot eschew their responsibilities in the matter of ensuring proper treatment to the deceased mother of the complainant..."
The forum asked the doctor at the nursing home to compensate Rs. 50,000/- for the said reasons and directed to pay the awarded amount within a period of 30 days from the date of communication of this order, failing which the amount shall carry interest @ 10% per annum till the payment is made in full.
Note: The objective of the #LegallySpeaking initiative is to spread awareness about the medicolegal implications of commonly encountered scenarios in a clinician's daily practice.