A surgeon cannot and does not guarantee that the result of surgery would invariably be beneficial, much less to the extent of 100% for the person operated on. The only assurance which such a professional can give or can be understood to have given by implication is that he is possessed of the requisite skill in that branch of profession which he is practicing and while undertaking the performance of the task entrusted to him he would be exercising his skill with reasonable competence. This is what all, the person approaching the professional can expect.
Judged by this standard, a professional may be held liable for negligence on one of the two findings: either he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have possessed, or, he did not exercise with reasonable competence in the given case, the skill which he did possess. A case regarding medical negligence was observed in Panchkula, where a gynaecologist negligently removed a uterus of a patient and negligently left a bandage/gauge inside her abdomen after operation.
The state consumer dispute redressal commission of Haryana has ordered for the compensation of ₹ 5 lakh along with 9% interest for physical and mental agony. The commission said that the doctor was medically negligent and there was a deficiency also in rendering the services by her and her clinic as well. If we talk about the incidence of leaving a bandage/gauge in the abdomen of the patient, then the commission has rightly given the judgement in accordance with the judgement of Dr. Laxman Balakrishna Joshi Vs. Dr. Trimbak Bapu Godbole where it was said that “The professional should bring to his task a reasonable degree of ability and knowledge and should exercise a reasonable degree of care”.
But there may arise some discrepancies in the judgement too. These discrepancies in the judgement are regarding the prudence of a doctor and the practice, reasoning that a medical practitioner invokes for a treatment/surgery. The complainant was suffering from irregular periods and an ultrasound report showed bulky uterus with fibroids and endometrial hyperplasia. Due to this, the complainant contacted the doctor and the doctor advised her for hysterectomy. Referring to the report of PGIMER, Chandigarh the commission said that no immediate surgery was required. Moreover the report also mentioned that the removed organ was normal. But the counsel of the doctor contested that the report of PGI also confirmed leiomyomas (fibroids) and ovarian cysts in both the ovaries.
The report of the PGI, contentions of the party and the judgement of the commission brings out a paradoxical scenario. The doctor advised for an urgent hysterectomy which “may point out” that it was the best that could be done. Moreover, The Supreme Court in Achutrao Khodwa v. State of Maharashtra said that “the doctor has discretion in choosing the treatment which he proposes to give to the patient and such discretion is relatively ampler in cases of emergency”. It may be possible that the doctor had found the situation to be urgent and in such scenario advised for hysterectomy. The PGIMER and the the commission saying that the patient was operated on a healthy uterus is difficult to digest because even the PGIMER report shows leiomyomas and cysts on both the ovaries. Yes, there were different course of treatments available but it was said in the achutro’s case that “The skill of medical practitioners differs from doctor to doctor.
The very nature of the profession is such that there may be more than one course of treatment which may be advisable for treating a patient”. Thus, apart from the doctor’s negligence it is difficult to say that the doctor “removed a healthy uterus” as mentioned in the article.
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