Doctors not responsible if sterilisation fails, says Delhi HC

Doctors are not liable to be punished for medical negligence if the sterilisation procedure fails and someone conceives a child, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

IANS| Last Updated: Sep 20, 2014, 23:09 PM IST

New Delhi: Doctors are not liable to be punished for medical negligence if the sterilisation procedure fails and someone conceives a child, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

"An unsuccessful sterilisation procedure does not necessarily imply that the attending doctors were negligent," Justice Vibhu Bakhru said, rejecting the plea of a woman who sought Rs.60.5 lakh compensation for the doctors' negligence.

The woman moved the court seeking compensation to bring up her third child, who was alleged to have been born because of medical negligence on the part of the doctors in performing the sterilisation operation on her.

The court in its recent ruling remarked that the woman was fully conscious of the risks involved in sterilisation and that she had signed the consent form in which she agreed not to seek compensation for maintenance of the child in case of failure.

Most sterilisation surgeries are performed after the parties agree to the consent form which shields the doctor or the hospital from any sort of liability in case the procedure fails.

In view of her accepting the terms for the operation, the claim for bringing up the child or for compensation on account of failure of the procedure, cannot be entertained, the court said.

However, the judge said the woman was entitled to Rs.20,000 under the family planning insurance scheme of the government for maintenance of the child.

In the petition, the woman claimed she had approached the doctors at the Lok Nayak Hospital here for a sterilisation procedure after delivery of her second child.

The operation was performed and a certificate issued June 3, 2010.

Apparently, the sterilisation procedure was not successful and the woman delivered her third child in October 2012.

The woman said she was informed of her pregnancy in March 2012, and she chose to continue with the pregnancy and delivered her third child.

She contended that the sterilisation procedure failed due to negligence of the doctors.

On the other hand, the hospital said there was no negligence on the part of the doctors and claimed that there was always a chance of a sterilisation operation being unsuccessful.

The hospital also said that while signing the application for the operation, the woman was made aware of the chances of failure.

Accepting the submissions of the hospital, the judge said: "I am unable to accept the contention that the negligence of attending doctors is established in the given facts and circumstances of this case. There is no material on record which would justify the finding that the attending doctors were negligent in performing the sterilisation operation on the woman."