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Indian Case Summary

Malay Kumar Ganguly vs Sukumar Mukherjee & Ors on 7 August, 2009 – Case Summary

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In the case of Malay Kumar Ganguly vs Sukumar Mukherjee & Ors on 7 August, 2009, the Supreme Court of India was called upon to adjudicate on a matter involving allegations of medical negligence. The case was brought before the court by Malay Kumar Ganguly and Dr. Kunal Saha against Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee and others.

Facts of the Case

The patient, Anuradha, and her husband Dr. Kunal Saha, both residents of the United States, were on vacation in India when Anuradha developed a fever and skin rash. Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, the first respondent, was called to examine Anuradha at her parental residence. Despite his assurance of a quick recovery, Anuradha’s condition worsened over the next few weeks. She was admitted to the Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI) under Dr. Mukherjee’s supervision, where she was also examined by Dr. Baidyanath Halder, the second respondent, and Dr. Abani Roy Chowdhury, the third respondent. Despite their efforts, Anuradha’s condition continued to deteriorate, and she was eventually shifted to Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, where she passed away.

Following Anuradha’s death, Kunal sent a lawyer’s notice to 26 persons, including those who had treated Anuradha in Kolkata and Mumbai. A criminal complaint was filed against Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Dr. Baidyanath Halder, and Dr. Abani Roy Chowdhury for commission of offence under Section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code.

Issues Raised

The primary issue raised in this case was whether the respondents were guilty of medical negligence in their treatment of Anuradha. The appellant, Dr. Kunal Saha, argued that the respondents had failed to adhere to the appropriate treatment protocol, had misdiagnosed Anuradha’s condition, and had prescribed inappropriate and excessive doses of medication. He also alleged that the respondents had failed to provide the necessary supportive treatment and had not maintained adequate medical records.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the cause of Anuradha’s death was septicemia shock with multi-organ failure leading to cardio-respiratory arrest. It was noted that Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee had been consulted by Dr. Kunal Saha since the 4th week of April, 1998, and his line of treatment had been followed despite his leaving abroad on the night of 11th May, 1998. The court found that Dr. Mukherjee had prescribed medication without even diagnosing a disease and had not advised symptomatic therapy like bed rest, elevation of the legs, and bandage to reduce Oedema nor prescribed any medicine for control of the underlying disease.

The court also observed that Dr. Baidyanath Halder had examined the patient for one day only and had diagnosed the disease as Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) correctly and prescribed medicines as per the treatment protocol noted in the textbooks. However, he had not been given any feedback by the husband of the deceased after 12th May, 1998.

Dr. Abani Roychowdhury, the third respondent, had never seen the patient nor treated her at AMRI at any point in time. He visited the hospital once in a week at the outdoor. On 12th May, 1998 having been requested by Dr. Kunal Saha as also Dr. Prasad, he went to the cabin only for the purpose of boosting the patient’s morale. He neither treated her nor was he a member of the team of doctors treating Anuradha at AMRI.

The court’s observations and the issues raised in this case highlight the complexities involved in cases of alleged medical negligence and the importance of maintaining thorough medical records. The case also underscores the critical role of appropriate diagnosis and treatment in patient care.