'Misleading' ads by doctors upset apex consumer forum

The apex consumer body expressed its worries while dismissing a plea by two medical practitioners, challenging a Kerala consumer forum order asking them to pay a compensation of Rs one lakh to a person for misguiding him on his son's cancer treatment, eventually leading to the youngster's death.

"The case presents a disturbing situation in as much as an ayurvedic practitioner and an MBBS doctor had held out to the public at large through print media that they have the skill to treat the cancerous tumour of children," the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Grievance Commission observed in its order, dismissing the two doctors' plea.

"The compensation of Rs 1,00,000 only, in the opinion of this Commission is quite just and reasonable and is neither excessive nor harsh," Commission member R C Jain said.

The Commission passed the order on a joint plea by Kerala-based ayurvedic practitioner, Dr Kunhalan Gurukkal and medical practitioner Dr Firdous Iqbal, challenging the state forum's order directing them to pay the compensation to A M Muhammed, the complainant.

The Kerala consumer commission had ordered the two doctors to pay the compensation for misguiding Muhammed, whose 21-year-old son had been suffering from osteosacoma (a cancer of the bone) and was undergoing treatment at the Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.

The cancer centre has advised the patient to undergo amputation of leg in order to save his life. It was at this juncture that Muhammed noticed the advertisement by the two doctors, claiming that they can treat cancer and took his son to them.

But the doctors were able to do precious little beyond administering the patient with some ineffective drugs, letting his plight to worsen further and leading to his eventual death.

Aggrieved, Muhammad approached the state forum seeking compensation of Rs 6 lakh from the two doctors for unfair trade practices and deficiency in service.

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