At, Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S.S. SATHEESACHANDRAN
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. T.S.P. MOOSATH
By, JUDICIAL MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MR. V.V. JOSE
For the Complainant: Indira Raveendran, Advocate. For the Opposite Parties: K. Muraleedharan Nair, Advocate.
S.S. Satheesa Chandran : President
The above complaint has been filed alleging medical negligence against the opposite parties, a hospital, its Managing Director and three of its doctors. During the period of pregnancy of the complainant, she was under the care and treatment of the opposite party hospital and doctors, and, none of the scan reports of the baby showed any problem nor was she informed of the baby having any problem, is her case. She delivered a child having some deformity, which certainly would have come to notice and detected during the first timestar of pregnancy of complainant, if there was adequate care and vigilance of the doctors, is her case to impute negligence on the first opposite party, and to claim compensation.
2. Notice ordered first four opposite parties appeared and filed version. However, further proceedings were stalled as service of notice ordered to the 5th opposite party doctor remained to be completed. The said doctor has left the first opposite party hospital, according to the counsel appearing for opposite parties 1 to 4. Notices sent to 5th opposite party were returned with endorsement 'left'. In such circumstances, 2nd opposite party, managing director of the 1st opposite party hospital, was directed to furnish the email address of 5th opposite party, if available. Counsel for opposite parties thereupon has furnished a memo showing the address of 5th opposite party. We notice that the address furnished indicate that the 5th opposite party is hailing from Rajasthan. Whether he has an email address and if so, whether 2nd opposite party is aware of such address is not shown or revealed.
3. Complaint filed in the year 2016 cannot be proceeded with since service on all opposite parties has not been completed. Consumer Protection Act envisage speedy remedy to the complainant insisting for summary trial and disposal of cases, normally, within a period of three months and if scientific evidence is to be collected, period extended by another two months. In cases involving medical negligence, it has come to the notice of the Commission that proceedings are stalled due to non-completion of service to one or more opposite party doctors who by that time had left the hospital where complainant was treated. Where present address of such doctor or doctors are asked for, hospital involved in the proceedings most often plead ignorance. Complainants who raise consumer disputes over medical negligence, most often, do not have the wherewithal to collect the present address of the doctors who had left the hospital and to carry out service upon them to prosecute their complaints. We are also informed that even mobile number of doctor is not furnished to the patients by hospital and they have no other option but to visit the hospital again and pay the consultation charges even when no consultation is required but only some advice from over their treatment doctor. Completion of service in several complaints filed before the Fora and Commission, the number of which is increasing are pending for the reason that present address of the director who is proceeded against is not available as he had left the hospital. We find that hospitals owe a duty to supply the name and address of doctors and also the mobile number and email address, if any, to the patients treated by them in case they seek for such details. In the case of government hospitals, there may not be any difficulty for patients to collect the names and address of doctors for effecting service, but, the position is different in private hospitals where it is seen that over a period of time doctors leave that hospital for various reasons. So much so, it is necessary that all private hospitals have to maintain a register showing the permanent address, mobile no. and email address of doctors in their service and furnish such address particulars to patients on request. Whenever a doctor employed in a private hospital leaves that hospital, address to which communication, if any, is to be sent to him should also be recorded in such register. The details of the doctor regarding his address, mobile no. etc., on request by a patient, has to be promptly supplied by the hospital. Failure to maintain such register with particulars as indicated above and non supply of the details on request by a patient has to be treated and considered as a deficiency of service on the part of that hospital as under the Consumer Protection Act.
4. A copy of this order shall be communicated to the Chief Secretary, G
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ovt. of Kerala for issue of appropriate instructions/orders by the government to the private hospitals for maintenance of register with details as stated above and supply of details to the patients on request . Send copy of this Order to all forums for informations and guidance. 5. Complainant is directed to take steps against 5th opposite party in the address furnished on the memo filed by opposite parties 1 to 4. Await return of notice on 5th opposite party. Call on 25.06.18.