It does look like a case of medical negligence, but an act of greed with potential for incalculable harm.
But that is how a south Indian consumer court chose to interpret it and ordered an orthopaedic surgeon to pay up Rs.77,500 towards a needless surgery inflicted on an unsuspecting patient.
While details are not clear, it has been reported Janglisab M. Balanawar of Hubli in the state of Karnataka, had approached S.G. Naregal, an orthopaedic surgeon, for treating acute pain in his lower back in 2002. On the doctor's advice, he underwent a surgery, for which he was charged Rs. 27,500.
However, as there was no improvement in his condition he finally approached neurosurgeon S.P. Baligar who, after diagnosis, advised him to undergo another surgery. Balanawar was operated on by Dr. Baligar now, after which he was relieved of the pain. Balanawar then approached the Dharwad District Consumer Forum seeking relief from the orthopaedic surgeon.
After hearing the case, the Consumer Forum president K.M. Thammaiah found Dr. Naregal guilty of medical negligence and ordered him to refund Rs. 27,500 which he received from the complainant as medical bill for the surgery and pay Rs. 50,000 as compensation for the physical and mental agony suffered by the complainant.
The forum observed that although the ailment of the patient was related to a neurological condition, instead of referring the case to a neurologist, the doctor, an orthopaedic surgeon, had conducted the surgery.
The forum has ordered the doctor to pay the compensation amount within four weeks, failing which the amount would carry an interest of eight per cent per annum from the date of the complaint till realisation.
The forum has also ordered the doctor to pay Rs. 1,000 towards the cost of the proceedings to the complainant.
The forum, however, has rejected the plea of the complainant that he should be compensated for the loss of his job in a private firm. It said the complainant had not filed any documents to prove that he was employed in a private firm earlier.