Dinesh Joshi visited a doctor for a pain in his back in 2011. While he didn’t get the treatment he needed, his determination that he has to get justice ended up with him getting so much more. It took till 2019, but here is another success story from the Consumer Court, in the medical field.
In January 2019, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in the case of Dinesh Joshi v Dr Geeta Jindal Aarogya & Anr. awarded Rs 3,00,000 as compensation to Dinesh Joshi (complainant) for unfair trade practices.
The NCDRC also held that the doctor was not just negligent in treating the patient but had also wrongly billed the victim for treatment that was never rendered, and that it amounted to an unfair trade practice.
Here’s how it all worked out.
Facts of the case
- On 4 October 2011, the complainant had severe back pain and visited a doctor. After examination, he was given some medicines and was told that he was suffering from fissures, which would decrease once the medicines started working.
- Two days later, on 6 October 2011, the complainant contacted the doctor again saying he was still in pain. Since the treating doctor was not in town, the complainant was able to speak to the doctor only late at night.
- On the morning of 7 October 2011, the complainant rushed to the treating doctor and was admitted. It is alleged that the treating doctor visited the complainant only once or twice during his stay at the hospital.
- At the time of admission, the complainant was assured that the cost of treatment would not exceed Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000.
- Despite the assurance, the complainant was charged Rs 36,450.
- According to the details furnished by the complainant in his petition, he was discharged on 12 October 2011 and was charged Rs 1850 for tests of HV/TLC.DLC whereas the rates in any lab is only Rs 250.
- After being discharged the complainant visited an ultrasound centre whereupon examination it was found that there was localised fluid collection.
- Subsequently, on 13 October 2011, the complainant was admitted for the drainage of the pus and felt much better after the procedure.
What the Tribunal held?
In its order, the Tribunal held, “In the present case, as the surgery was not performed, the medicines/surgical items which were not used were billed. There is also no evidence on record that the patient was ever put in an ICU.”
In further noted that “ In fact, it is the main case of the treating doctor that surgery was not required to be performed and the question of putting the patient in an ICU did not arise. Therefore, the ICU charges of Rs 12,500 were wrongly billed. We are of the considered view that such billing amounts to unfair trade practice.”
So that’s how it worked out for Dinesh, and his compensation is a lesson to us all, to keep an eye on how we are treated in hospitals. It is natural to be swept up in a moment of pain or panic, but do keep an eye on what treatment is being offered, and whether that is the standard practice or rates.
What is Medical Negligence
Speaking to The Better India about medical negligence cases, Advocate Jehangir Gai, who has handled a large number of consumer matters, says, “I would recommend that all patients ask for periodic updates, in writing from the hospital/doctor. Remember that once there is some negligence, it is possible for the records to be fudged. So stay mindful and get the records.”
Asking for your medical record from time to time is a matter of right, and one cannot be denied the same. “In fact, if the records are not furnished within seventy hours then the hospital and doctor will be committing a breach of the code of ethics,” says Gai.
It is also advisable that patients get a second opinion before they subject themselves to any kind of procedure or surgery. “Always discuss in-depth the various treatment options with your doctor before agreeing to any procedure,” says Gai.
If you wish to read about how you can file a consumer complaint and fight your case without hiring the services of a lawyer, then you can click here to read about it. Some interesting judgements passed by the consumer forums can be accessed here. To understand what medical negligence is and how you can protect yourself, click here to read.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)