Lal Path Labs to pay Rs 4L to Dr for wrongly diagnosing HIV+

Lal Path Labs to pay Rs 4L to Dr for wrongly diagnosing HIV+

Reputed diagnostic pathology lab, Dr Lal Path Labs, has been directed by a Consumer Forum here to pay Rs four lakh compensation to a paediatric specialist in an Army hospital for wrongly diagnosing her HIV positive nearly 11 years back.

Noting that there were increasing number of complaints against the lab, New Delhi Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said the facts reveal a "shocking state of affairs".It said the lab was "fleecing consumers by false advertisements and use inefficient medical personnel and staff".

This has been amply demonstrated by number of consumers coming against the lab for various deficiencies, it said. The result of imperfection on its part was to such an extent that a DNA test was conducted instead of one for HIV virus.

"It has traumatized the life of complainant (doctor), her husband and children, affected temporarily her career in short time which were as a direct result of a wrong test done without knowing its background and then going to get the correct information after doing the test," a bench headed by its President C K Chaturvedi said.

Holding the lab guilty of rendering imperfect service, deficiency and keeping in view the turmoil caused to complainant Major (Retd) Dr Gaitry Kolley, the bench awarded her damages of Rs 3.5 lakh and Rs 50,000 as litigation costs.

Kolley, who was working with the Army Medical Corps as a paediatric specialist in a military hospital at Pune's Kirkee, said in her complaint that on May 24, 2003, she had accidentally pricked her finger during a routine procedure on a baby born to an HIV positive mother.

As per the duty code of the armed forces, she reported the matter to the duty medical officer and got herself tested from different laboratories to ascertain whether the HIV virus had passed into her at the time of the needle prick incident.

The tests revealed there was no infection, but in July 2003, Kolley  went for a conformity test at Dr Lal Path Labs in Delhi as the processed state-of-the-art equipment for various tests and known for its expertise, she said.

She said in the complaint that on August 4, 2003, she got a call from the Pune office of that lab which conveyed to her that the report was positive and this traumatized her and her family members. 

Next day, a second confirmation test was carried out from the same lab which came out to be HIV negative. But, as a result of the initial report and confusion created by it, she got admitted and subjected herself to a series of tests and Army procedures.

A court of inquiry way set up and she was placed in a low medical category for prospective HIV infection on September 16, 2003. For the next three months, she had to undergo another round of tests and treatment and it was only after that she came to know that she had never been HIV positive, she said.

The forum noted that the lab has admitted the fact that it had conducted a prognostic test and not a diagnostic test. A prognostic test is only useful to detect whether an infection is on the rise or not. The forum held that in order to establish whether the woman was HIV positive or not, Lal Path Labs should have performed a diagnostic test.The lab, in its defence, claimed that it did not give any HIV positive report.

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