Published on: 22 September 2022 at 23:26 IST
The Supreme Court overturned an NCDRC judgement that required a hospital to compensate a lady who gave birth despite having a tubectomy.
In this instance, a lady underwent two tubectomy surgeries, both of which were unsuccessful. In the year 2003, she gave birth to a boy. She complained to the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, blaming unsuccessful tubectomy operation on medical malpractice. On the grounds that the hospital is not a consumer, the same was rejected.
This decision was upheld by the State Consumer Commission (SCDRC). Later, the National Consumer Commission (NCDRC) approved a revision petition and ordered that compensation be paid in accordance with state laws and regulations.
Before the Apex Court, the Hospital raised two contentions:
(1) that Doctors and hospitals who render service without any charge to every person availi ng of the service would not fall within the ambit of ‘service’ under Section 2(1)(o) of the Act [relied on Indian Medical Association Vs. V.P. Shantha & Ors., (1995)]
(2) that the failed tubectomy surgery is not a case of medical negligence as the sterilized woman can become pregnant due to natural causes. [relied on State of Punjab Vs. Shiv Ram & Ors., (2005)].
With regard to the law established in the cases cited by the appellants, the bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia granted the appeal by overturning the NCDRC judgement.
The bench ruled that the State shall not be entitled to any money paid to the respondent in accordance with the NCDRC Order.
In V.P. Shantha, it was observed thus: “Doctors and hospitals who render service without any charge whatsoever to every person availing of the service would not fall within the ambit of ‘service’ under Section 2(1)(o) of the Act. The payment of a token amount for registration purposes only would not alter the position in respect of such doctors and hospitals.”
Regarding failed tubectomy surgery, the Apex Court in Shiv Ram (supra), had observed thus: “The cause of action for claiming compensation in cases of failed sterilization operation arises on account of negligence of the surgeon and not on account of child birth. Failure due to natural causes would not provide any ground for claim.”