It was in 2005 that Vinayanandan, a lawyer based in Kozhikode, died while being treated at Nature Life Hospital at Ernakulam. His brother Thilakanandan still feels guilty that the family had sent the lawyer who was diabetic to this center run by naturopathist Dr Jacob Vadakkanchery also the founder director of Nature Life Hospital.
12 years after Vinayanandan’s death a fine of Rs 4 lakh was slapped on Dr Jacob Vadakkanchery by the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Kozhikode. The fine was slapped based on a petition that was filed by Vinayanandan’s family on March 7, 2007. As per the order passed by the consumer forum, there was negligence on the part of Dr Vadakkanchery and his hospital.
“I had once gone for Vadakkanchery’s speech as part of an awareness campaign he conducted on naturopathy. His speech was very impressive, and I wondered if natural remedies may be able to help my brother”, recalled Thilakanandan, Vinayanandan’s brother.
“As part of the campaign, he even conducted an international conference in Ernakulam which Menaka Gandhi inaugurated. During that, he said that it was possible for diabetics to be completely cured and even quoted medical books”, Thilakanandan added.
After this, Vinayanandan’s family admitted him to Nature Life Hospital in Ernakulam on November 7, 2005, by his family. No family members stayed back with him because of the hospital’s insistence.
“We were hoping for relaxed therapy without any risks as the officials were endorsing naturopathy. My brother complained of slight difficulty in breathing before he left for the hospital and we had taken an ECG,” said Thilakanandan.
The day before Vinayanandan was admitted, Thilakanandan visited the hospital.
“I had spoken to many patients and hospital officials the previous day. I even submitted the report to them, and they did tell me about any signs of abnormality in the report”, said Thilakanandan.
Just four days after being admitted, on November 11, Vinayanandan’s family was informed of his demise.
After his unexpected death, his family approached the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. They also consulted another doctor in Kozhikode, which is when they realised their folly.
“That’s when we realized our mistake. We should have enquired about Dr Vadakkanchery’s institution. They failed to diagnose that my brother had a mild heart attack just days before he was admitted to Nature Life Hospital”, Thilakanandan said.
At that point, Thilakanandan says that Vinayanandan required complete bed rest, but was exerting himself.
“He was made to do yoga in the mornings, which used to be conducted on the second floor. That meant that he had to climb stairs. This further weakened his heart, resulting in sudden fatigue, which is why he collapsed”, Thilakanandan adds.
Thilakanandan maintains that his brother was not administered any harmful medicines by the hospital, but it most certainly was a failure of diagnosis.
The court order also states that Dr Vadakkanchery and the hospital officials admitted that they did not know how to read and understand an ECG.
In the order, Forum President Rose Jose opined,
“This means that the production or non-production of ECG before them immaterial in this case. This also shows their gross ignorance in the medical field. Whatever branch of medicine a doctor is practicing, he should know the fundamentals of medical science. Otherwise they are not deserved to be called a doctor. Thus from the evidence it is found that in the instance case the opposite parties No. 3 and 4 did not show the reasonable skill or care in treating the patient where they are bound to show. This is gross negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the 3rd and 4th opposite parties.”
The Forum then ruled,
“Though it is found that the direct cause of death of the patient was not because of the treatment of the opposite parties, it is found that there is gross negligence on the part of the opposite parties in giving care and attention to the patient. Hence, the petition is partly allowed and the opposite parties are found liable to compensate the petitioners reasonably.”
“What my brother needed was complete bed rest. The doctors in Vadakkanchery’s hospital failed to diagnose his condition,” he said.
The petition was filed by Vinayanandan’s family on March 7, 2007, and the judgment was passed by the Forum on Nov 27, 2017. The family was officially notified of the judgment on December 30th 2017.