NEW DELHI: A city-based doctor couple was penalised and asked to pay Rs 15 lakh compensation for a botched-up eye surgery of a woman, who lost sight in one of her eyes 14 years ago. The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission remarked that the operating doctor failed to place on record educational certificates showing his competency to conduct eye surgery.
“They also failed to disclose if the surgery was done in the charitable institution or in the regular clinic..,” judicial member N P Kaushik observed. The judicial member asked his order to be sent to the Medical Council of India, Delhi Medical Council, secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, director, Directorate General of Health Services and Medical Commission of India.
On February 2, 2004, Savita Khanna had gone to Aditya Eye Care and Opticals Pvt Ltd for a cataract operation. There she met Dr Laxmi Pal and Dr R S Pal, who would later conduct her surgery. She was operated upon the same day and was implanted with an intra-ocular lens.
Khanna, however, contended that as a result of the requisite procedure not being followed before the surgery, she suffered heavy bleeding from the operated area. A second surgery was performed on March 1, 2004, but the condition of her eye did not improve.
When she sought opinion of other senior ophthalmologists, she was told about the “negligence” of the operating doctor and no hope of recovering from the complete loss of vision. Given the precarious condition —- detachment of retina — even a stone-eye could not be planted. She was just 43 when it all happened.
As a result, she claimed Rs 28 lakh as compensation.
The doctor couple responded saying all necessary steps were taken pre-surgery. They argued that after the operation, she was asked to follow up on the next day but she did not come. The operating doctor, it was contended, went to her house to see her and found that the surgery was a success. On February 26, however, the patient came to the clinic with high blood pressure, high fever and intraocular haemorrhage with expulsion of lens and ocular contents. She was advised that the symptoms were not medically palatable and their prevention was of top priority before undergoing another operation. A second surgery was done on March 1, 2004 and she was discharged after giving post-operative instructions.
Putting the onus on the patient, the doctors submitted that she had gall stones and also had a urinary infection. Besides, the high fever resulted in increased blood urea and blood pressure levels. It resulted in continued vomiting, haemorrhage and expulsion of implanted intraocular lens. Therefore, carelessness was attributed to Khanna.
Commission’s records reveal of Delhi Medical Council issuing a warning to the operating doctor for not keeping proper records of the surgery. In addition, the clinic where the doctor had been working from was not registered with the DGHS.
After going through the case details, the commission found “nothing” on record suggesting that the patient was investigated for blood pressure or blood sugar before the cataract surgery. “Dr R S Pal has failed to explain the coming out of the ocular contents from the eye… It is a clear case of ‘medical negligence’,” the redressal commission held.
Besides, the doctor couple was said to have “deliberately withheld their records” as the same would have gone against them. Drawing an adverse inference for commission became inevitable. “Dr R S Pal failed to place on record his educational certificates showing his competence to conduct eye surgery. They also failed to disclose if the surgery was done in the charitable institution or in the regular clinic,” it further observed.