Trust deficit in doctor-patient ties leading to negligence cases

Bengaluru: While more number of hospitals in the city are offering advanced surgeries; there is also a rise in medical negligence cases. Even reputed hospitals are being slapped with heavy fines by the consumer courts in this regard.

Dr Usha Manjunath, Director, Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), said the reasons for increase in medical litigation and consumer court settlements are multifold.

Major factors are growing awareness among general public regarding patients’ rights, suffering caused due to medical negligence and trust deficit in doctor-patient relationship.

“In the last two decades, the growth of private hospitals and build up on technology has been the highest in the country. All these factors, along with higher percentage of people using private hospitals (than public ones), will result in increased reporting of negligence,” Dr Usha added.

Recently a consumer court imposed a fine of Rs 11.55 lakh on KIMS hospital at V.V. Puram after a 10-year-old boy became disabled after being administered anesthesia.

As per the case, the patient Sharat Gowda, a 10-year-old boy, met with an accident and was admitted to KIMS. He was given anesthesia and that made him 50% disabled.

The doctors suggested an operation to replace his broken leg part with an iron rod and recommended a small surgery to remove the implant after a couple of days. After the rod implant, Sharat was discharged.

After four weeks, his father, Srinivas brought him back to the hospital for removal of the implant. After being kept in the operation theatre for four hours, Sharat was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

While the parents spent approximately Rs 1.5 lakh as medical expenses, they were not provided any clarity regarding their son’s health status.

Srinivas then approached his lawyer for legal opinion and filed a case. National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences later certified that Sharat was 50% disabled after being treated at KIMS, thereby proving the medical negligence.

In another case, a medical negligence case was registered against the pediatricians of M.S. Ramaiah Memorial Hospital after a 35-year-old-man alleged that his twin daughters died after being admitted to hospital for cough and fever.

Dr Usha also said that care in a hospital is all about ‘team work’ (physicians, junior doctors, nurses, technicians etc) and communication gaps could backfire.

She also pointed out that other critical factor which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult is that many patients go to hospitals only during advanced stages of illness.

“Operating hospitals without proper protocols, standards of care, documentation and recording of informed consent could also contribute to the problem. Even in a best scenario of care, high costs and bad health outcomes could act as triggers for public outrage,” she added.

However, Dr T.S. Prabhakar, Joint Director, Medical, Department of Health and Family Welfare, said, “Actions will be taken as per the KPME (Karnataka Private Medical Establishments) act, which was passed this year and the law is very stringent against medical negligence.” 

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