The Supreme Court recently held that transfusion of wrong blood group to a patient amounted to medical negligence.The Court order arises from an appeal filed by Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh against the compensation awarded to Mr. Jaspal Singh by the State and National Commission.

In the instant case, Mrs. Harjit Kaur was admitted to the PGIMER on 19-04-1996 for treatment of burn injuries. As part of her treatment, she was transfused with A+ blood, which was her blood group. However, during a second blood transfusion on 20-05-1996, she was transfused with B+ blood instead of A+. Her condition started worsening and, as a result of the transfusion of wrong blood group, her kidney and liver got damaged and she died on 01-07-1996.

Mr. Jaspal Singh, the husband of Harjit Singh, subsequently lodged a claim with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The Commission held that the death was due to medical negligence and awarded Rs.2 lakh compensation, which was contested by PGIMER in the National Commission. National Commission confirmed the State Commission’s award.

Not satisfied with the National Commission’s order, PGIMER appealed to the Supreme Court against the Commission’s Order. The appellant contended that Mrs. Harjit Kaur died of Septicemia and not due to mismatched blood transfusion and that Mrs. Kaur had survived for about 40 days after the blood transfusion. The Supreme Court Bench dismissed the appeal stating that “Although Mrs. Kaur survived for about 40 days after mismatched blood transfusion, it cannot be said that there was no causal link between the mismatched transfusion of blood and her death. Wrong blood transfusion is an error which no hospital/doctor exercising ordinary care would have made.”

Justice Lodha in his judgement said that “with regard to professional negligence, it is now well settled that a professional may be held liable for negligence if he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have possessed or, he did not exercise, with reasonable competence in the given case the skill which he did possess”