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Strong Incriminating Circumstantial Or Documentary Evidence Is Required For Application Of Doctrine Of Negligence: Supreme Court 

Mrs. Kalyani Rajan V/S Indraprastha Apollo Hospital & Ors. [Civil Appeal No. 10347 Of 2010]

The division bench of Justice A.S. Bopanna And Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra said that the crucial issue to be decided is whether the respondents have committed negligence in not providing proper postoperative medical care to the patient and, accordingly, whether the Commission has committed any illegality while dismissing the complaint filed by the appellant.

The complainant-appellant is the wife of the deceased patient namely, Sankar Rajan 3 , who was 37 years old and died on 06.11.1998 in the hospital-respondent no. 1 herein while undergoing follow up care and treatment after a major neurosurgery in the care of respondent nos. 1 and 2. The deceased was under the employment of proforma respondent no. 3 and was earning handsome annual package at the time of his demise. 

Nikhil Nayyar, senior counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that the deceased died due to cardiac arrest, albeit, admittedly, the deceased had no cardiac problems.

Dr. Lalit Bhasin, counsel appearing for respondent no. 1 submitted that the patient had made excellent recovery after neurosurgery and there were no post operative complications, therefore, he was shifted to recovery room and thereafter to private room. 

The Apex Court noted that the patient did not have any history of diabetes or hypertension or any cardiac problem. Therefore, it was difficult for treating doctors including the duty doctor or the hospital to assume that the patient may suffer cardiac arrest and moreover, the patient had also not complained of pain in any other part of the body except neck region. 

The court stated that for applying the principles of Res Ipsa Locutor, it is necessary that a ‘Res’ is present to establish the allegation of negligence. Strong incriminating circumstantial or documentary evidence is required for application of the doctrine. 

The court observed that in the absence of the patient having any history of diabetes, hypertension, or cardiac problem, it is difficult to foresee a possible cardiac problem only because the patient had suffered pain in the neck region.

It was viewed by the court that the appellant has failed to establish negligence on the part of Respondents in taking post operative care and the findings in this regard recorded by the Commission does not suffer from any illegality or perversity. 

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