Madras High Court Quashes Hospital Licence Suspension Following Post-Weight Reduction Surgery Death

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Court noted that while an unfortunate incident did occur at the hospital, resorting to suspension or temporary cancellation of registration for a single event was an excessive response

The Madras High Court has quashed the suspension order of a hospital's licence, which was imposed following a patient's death after weight reduction surgery.

A young patient undergoing bariatric surgery for morbid obesity at B.P. Jain Hospital, part of the Sankara Health Education and Charitable Trust in Chennai, tragically passed away after suffering cardiac arrest.

Justice G.R. Swaminathan, in allowing the hospital's petition, noted that while an unfortunate incident did occur, resorting to suspension or temporary cancellation of registration for a single event was an excessive response.

He held that the government's suspension order appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction driven by the extensive media coverage of the young patient's death, and was grossly disproportionate.

On April 21, 26-year-old S. Hemachandran was admitted to BP Jain Hospital in Pammal, Chennai, on the advice of Dr. T. Perungo for bariatric surgery to address his morbid obesity. Due to improper service, Hemachandran developed complications and was transferred to another private hospital in Chromepet, where he passed away on April 23. Following a surprise inspection on May 5 by the Joint Director of Health Services, Chengalpattu, which uncovered several lapses, an order was issued temporarily canceling the hospital's license.

The judgment highlighted that the institution, in operation for 23 years, charges just Rs 100 for out-patient services. Over this period, it has treated nearly 2 million out-patients, admitted 45,000 in-patients, and successfully performed 8,500 surgeries.

Justice Swaminathan wrote that the suspension of the hospital's license would primarily harm the patients, and thus, the authority needs to balance the competing considerations carefully.

We are witnessing an era of corporatisation of medical care, in such a situation, the existence of hospitals which do not charge much are highly necessary and the role played by such institutions will have to be recognized, the judgment stated.