Case Study

MISLEADING ADVERTIZEMENTS ARE “UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES”

REVISION PETITION NO. 1776 OF 2017   SURYA KANT  Versus  BRAHMSHAKTI SANJIVANI HOSPITAL decided  by the Hon’ble NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION  NEW DELHI  on 13 Nov 2018


FACTS OF THE CASE:
The complainant, Surya Kant, suffered chest pain and got admitted in Brahm Shakti Sanjivani Hospital, Bahadurgarh – OP on 28.02.2015, underwent angioplasty and one medicated stent was implanted during angioplasty.  He was hospitalized till 2.3.2015.  It is alleged that the hospital – OP charged Rs.2,30,000/-, for the angioplasty and cost of stent whereas as per the advertisement / offer published by the OP in the local newspaper, the complainant was required to pay only Rs.1,25,000/- for the angioplasty with a medicated stent.  The complainant had paid Rs.1,05,000/- in ing excess to the OP.  The complainant is also holder of a Medi-claim insurance policy from the National Insurance Company Ltd. for his family member having cover of Rs.2 lakh for the period of 17.06.2014 to 16.06.2015.  For the alleged unfair trade practice, the complainant had filed a consumer complaint before the District Forum, Jhajjar against the hospital – OP and claimed the refund of excess amount alongwith interest and the compensation.  According to the OP, the offer of angioplasty with medicated stent was for those patients, who make payment of Rs.1,25,000/- in cash.  As the complainant gave his consent for the best quality of stent  i.e. for ‘Yukon Elite 2.75 x 24 mm @ 14 atm, which has a life time guarantee, extra amount of Rs.1,05,000/- was charged from the complainant. Hence, there was no unfair trade practice on behalf of the hospital – OP.  District Forum allowed the complaint and directed the OP to refund the excess amount i.e. Rs.1,05,000/- paid , Appeal was allowed by the State Commission and complaint was dismissed.

OBSERVATIONS:
The advertisement was in Hindi language.
” 12500 1,25,000 “
The above advertisement does not carry any detail that whether it is applicable for routine patients or the emergency patients; whether benefit is only for the cash payment customers.  In the instant case, the complainant / patient was admitted in the hospital as an emergency case with chest pain.  The ECG revealed Acute MI, therefore, the treating doctors advised for angioplasty.  It is an admitted fact that the complainant’s wife gave consent for the proposed charges towards procedure approximately amounting to Rs.2,40,000/-.  She has opted for best quality stent having lifetime guarantee for her husband.  The OP performed angioplasty using stent- Yukon Elite, which was priced at Rs. 1,12,000/-. ‘Yukon Elite’ stent, which the OP had implanted, was also a medicated stent.  If we go by the plain words of the advertisement, any common / prudent person will be misled by such advertisement.  As per the advertisement, it is clear that medicated stent will be used during the angioplasty.  In our view, the OP had intentionally concealed the material information in the advertisement to avail the benefits of scheme.  It is quite surprising that the Scheme was applicable for the routine or planned patients undergoing angiography / angioplasty. No one will approach the hospital as a routine investigation for angiography and opt for the procedure of angioplasty.  But, commonly most of the cases approach the hospital in emergency cardiac problems and after investigations the decision of angioplasty ought to be taken.  As contended by OP, the scheme was not applicable for emergency patients, is baseless and has no ground.   We have perused the bill details which clearly reveal that the cost of stent was Rs. 1,12,000/- and the cost of procedure was Rs.1,15,000/- whereas as per the advertisement / offer, the cost of angioplasty was Rs.1,25,000/- meaning thereby the cost of stent will be only Rs.10,000/.  It clearly transpires that the hospital routinely use stent costing to Rs.10,000/- whereas ‘Yukon Elite stent’ which they have implanted in the instant patient was for Rs.1,12,000/-, meaning thereby Rs.1,02,000/- in excess.  There should be logic / some justification for such huge difference of charges between two stents.  It is just exploitation of the innocent patient, having cardiac problems.  In our considered view, this is a clear case of unfair trade practice adopted by the OP / Hospital.  The State Commission while adjudicating the appeal observed that the insurance company has not been impleaded as a party.  However, we do not find any justification because the complainant is at liberty who may or may not approach the insurance company for his mediclaim.  It is no way concerned with the OP’s advertisement / Scheme.

HELD:
On the basis of foregoing discussion, we set aside the Order dated 14.03.2017 passed by the State Commission and restore the order dated 12.05.2016 of the District Forum.  It is the clear case of unfair trade practices adopted by OP through the misleading advertisement, therefore, in our considered view, a cost of Rs. 1 lakh on the respondent/hospital, is just and reasonable, out of said cost, Rs.50,000/- shall be paid to the complainant and the rest amount of Rs.50,000/- shall be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account of the District Forum.  OP is further directed to restrain from such misleading advertisement in future.

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