According to the complainant, the hospital failed to provide any nurse or attendant to the patient and also refused to allow any relative inside the room during nights, despite repeated requests. The woman died 10 days later as she was in the terminal stage of cancer. Chaudhry then filed a case against the hospital, holding it responsible for the further deterioration of his wife’s health. Finding the hospital guilty of lapses, the commission, observed, in such a situation, it becomes the obligation of the hospital to provide such assistance or help. While imposing a penalty of Rs 5, 5000 on the hospital, the commission held that inadequate nurse-patient or doctor-patient ratio in a Hospital or Nursing home amounts to ” deficiency in service”.

We have come across cases where the nurse-patient or doctor-patient ratio in government hospitals and even private nursing homes is highly disproportionate or inadequate. This, in itself, amounts to deficiency in service, noted Justice J D Kapoor, the Commission’s President. A hospital can be made liable to compensate any patient or his kin under the Consumer Protection Act, not only for medical negligence but also if he has suffered mental or physical agony due to this kind of “administrative” deficiency on its part, said the Commission. Taking to task the hospital for not providing nursing staff or attendant to a retired Wing Commander’s wife who was terminally ill and could not even move, the Commission asked it to pay Rs 50,000 as penalty to the woman’s family.

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