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Balbir Singh vs Ganga Ram Hospital

Brief Facts Of This Case:
In this case Manpreet Singh Makol who is alleged to have been victim of medical blunder committed by Dr. J.S. Makhani, Senior Orthopaedic Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Manpreet Singh was a patient of Osteosercoma upper end tibia. The malignant tumour was suspected at the very initial stage and radio therapy and open biopsy was advised by the doctors of PGI, Chandigarh.

The complainant on the advice of M.P. Singh of General Hospital, Chandigarh, consulted Dr. Makhani, and Dr. Makhani advice complainant to admitted his son in the Ganga Ram Hospital. Bone drafting was done and patient discharged with 'awaited' biopsy report.

The complaints also questioned to doctors about doing of bone grafting without biopsy report but doctors of Ganga Ram Hospital said that there was such no disease, i.e., 'osteoblastoma' as diagnosed by the Doctors of PGI, Chandigarh. According to complainant amputation was done and his son succumbed. In the process of proceeding of the court Dr. J.S. Makhani died. Complainant want compensation of 50 crores but complainant did not give the detail how this amount arrived.

Name Of Parties: Balbir Sing Makol vs. Chairman, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Ors.
Date: 15.12.2000
Hon'ble Judges/Coram: Suhas C. Sen, J. (President), C.L. Chaudhry and J.K. Mehra, JJ. (Members), Rajyalakshmi Rao, B.K. Taimni, Members
Citations: MANU/CF/0005/2000 2001(1)C.P.C.429, 2001 (1) CPR 45

Issue Of The Case:
  • Whether there is any medical negligence by Dr. J.S. Makhani, Senior Orthopaedic Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital?

Argument Of The Parties:
Complainant: The counsel for complainant has submitted that the bone drafting done by Dr. J.S. Makhani to the patient of osteosarcoma was a criminal act. He alleges that the doctor deliberately, knowingly and intentionally gave wrong treatment to make money from complainant.

According to him if his son had proper treatment, then the life of his would be saved. He also alleges that simple leg amputation could have saved his life and due to unwanted bone drafting and delayed amputation caused the life of his son.

In the view of the above complainant has claimed the following relief:
  1. Compensation/damages of Rs.50 crore.
  2. To award the cost of complainant; and
  3. Any other order, which this commission deems fit as per the circumstances and facts of this case.
Defendants: In response to the contention made by complainants, the council of defendant has made the following arguments; According to the opposite party no.2, it was said that Manpreet Singh Makol was a victim of unmatched medical blunder. By the report of PGI, Chandigarh it cannot be treated as confirmation that patient was suffering from Osteo Sarcoma of the upper end of the tibia. the opposite party no.2 (Dr. J.S. Makhani) state that in this case, it was very important to first perform biopsy any remedial measures- surgical or medical that any medical practitioner could commence treating the afflicted patient. According to opposite party no.2 bone draft was perform due to some effective reasons.

While denying the allegation that earlier bone graft was wasteful and mindless, it was stated by party no.2 that surgical procedure was essentially for diagnosing the nature of tumour but after opening of the knee it was necessitated to do minor bone craft to pack the cavity. According to party no.3, he is only a junior doctor who was only involved in giving the assistance to the senior consultant and obeying and implementing the instruction given by the senior consultant, according to him he barely saw patient for 2 hours before the operation.

According to the party no.4, he was employed as medical officer at the general hospital, Chandigarh, and he only suggested in the interest of the patient for a second opinion and that impleading him is unwise, improper and complaint should be dismissed.

In the judgement of this case, Dr. Makhani who performed operation in the at sir ganga ram hospital was the doctor in charge. Before the case reach in final decision the said doctor, i.e., Dr. Makhani, died. Thus, the allegation could neither be rebuttal nor could he have opportunity to defend himself.

In cases of tort of medical negligence, the cause of personal against person who has been negligent in discharging his duties and that cause of action does not survive against his state or legal representative. However, in this case, judgement has been passed against the said deceased, the payable amount could be recovered from the estate of deceased or legal representatives of deceased could be brought on record.

But that did not happen in this case, in this case maxim action personalis mortius cum person rule applicable, therefore, the cause of action against the party against whom an action in tort is brought is extinguished on his death. This maxim means that right of action of person dies with the person in other words right of action destroyed with death of person.

Let's come to the role of other doctor we find that opposite party no.3 was only a junior doctor who called to assist the Dr. Makhani and he had no authority to work independently. Since the case has failed against Dr. Makhani, it cannot be proceeded further against party no.3 or even respondent no.1 which is hospital where operation was done because there is no allegation of negligence and lack of service provided by the hospital authority.

The respondent no.4 in this case only recommended that a second opinion be obtained from before proceeding and further with the treatment at Chandigarh. In this case no relief is accorded to the complainant on account of death of senior doctor. The complaint cannot be proceeded with any further and therefore, dismissed with no order as to cost.

Case Comment:
In this case I am not agree with judgment because of 2 reasons:
  1. In this judgement I find lack of clarity on medical negligence because when it acknowledges the complexity of the medical situation, it does not delve deep into the standard of care expected from senior orthopaedic consultant. Moe detail examination of whether Dr. Makhani actions aligned with accepted medical practise would have been beneficial.
  2. The judgement seems heavily on the legal principle "action personalise mortius cum persona'' essentially dismissing the complainant due to the death of Dr. Makhani. While this principle is relevant, it may have been more just to explore other avenues for addressing the family's grievance or compensating them for their loss.
  3. It does not address the responsibility of doctor in complex medical cases and how they should handle procedure like bone drafting before a confirmed diagnosis.

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