New Delhi: The Super Religare Laboratories Ltd has been directed by a consumer forum at New Delhi to pay Rs 1.43 lakh to a patient for incorrectly concluding that she was suffering from the highly infectious disease swine flu.
The forum also suggested to the Centre and the Delhi government to consider taking appropriate action against the hospitals or diagnostic labs which "propagate" false reports on dangerous diseases and cause panic among general public.
"We hold opposite party (Super Religare Laboratories) deficient in providing the services and reporting a disease which was non-existent. The complainant (Pushpa Gupta) did not only suffer physically, mentally and socially but also financially.
"She has claimed a sum of Rs 1,43,662 which includes the cost of mental agony and harassment. We feel that it should be granted," said the East District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, while directing the lab to pay the amount.
The bench presided by N A Zaidi also said, "We feel it as our duty to bring this fact to the notice of the Government of India as well as GNCT of Delhi for taking proper measures against such hospital and labs, indulging in false propagation of such disease and causing panic in the mind of general public".
The forum's order came on a plea by Rajasthan resident Pushpa Gupta, who was admitted to Shanti Mukand Hospital New Delhi for treatment after she developed cold and fever.
The hospital had taken samples from her for testing for H1N1 virus or swine flu and had sent it to the Super Religare lab, which in its report had said she was infected with the deadly virus, Pushpa had said.
She had alleged that on coming to know that she was infected with swine flu, the hospital did not only discharge her forcibly but also provided no help in transferring her to a government hospital.
Pushpa in her plea added that while she was admitted in RML Hospital, she was tested by the National Centre for Disease Control, which found she was not suffering from swine flu.
While denying she was forcibly discharged, the hospital had said she was referred to a government hospital for further treatment in accordance with the government guidelines.
The diagnostic lab had maintained that she was suffering from swine flu as they had preserved her sample and retested it and they were not wrong in reporting the disease to the hospital.
The bench while holding the lab held guilty of "negligent behaviour" for its incorrect conclusion, said "the case in hand is an example of shaking the faith which ordinary patient has in a laboratory like Super Religare".
The forum further held that "private hospitals and nursing homes should be made more sensitive towards such patient and they be directed to be well equipped with all the necessary equipments for the safety of patient, staff and doctors."
"Those not complying their license should be cancelled. In the present case the conduct of the staff and management of the Shanti Mukand Hospital required to be deprecated," it added.