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Friday, May 15, 2009

Nizam’s Institute ordered to pay Rs.1 crore for medical negligence

Nizam’s Institute ordered to pay Rs.1 crore for medical negligence

Legal Correspondent
A computer engineer became paraplegic after a surgery in hospital
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad, to pay Rs.1 crore as compensation towards medical negligence to a computer engineer, who became a paraplegic after he underwent a surgery at the hospital in 1990.
A Bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agrawal, H.S. Bedi and G.S. Singhvi awarded this compensation to Prashanth S. Dhanaka.
Moved by plight
The Bench was moved by his plight as he himself argued the case sitting in a wheelchair.
He sought a huge amount as compensation from the hospital against Rs.15.5 lakh awarded by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
While the hospital filed an appeal against this order, he filed an appeal for enhancement of compensation.
Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Bedi said, “We have no other option but to conclude that the attending doctors were severely remiss in conducting the operation and it is on account of the neglect the paraplegia had set in. The support necessary for a severely handicapped person comes at an enormous price; physical, financial and emotional not only on the victim but even more so on the family attendant that saps their energy and destroy the equanimity.”
Praising the appellant for arguing himself, the Bench said: “We must record that though a deep injury was discernible, through his protracted struggle, while confined to a wheelchair, he remained unruffled and behaved with quite dignity, pleading his own case bereft of any rancour or invective for those who in his perception had harmed him.
The Bench, while calculating the compensation, took into consideration the emotional and physical trauma he underwent, loss of marriage, his brilliant academic career, his future income and the medical expenditure he would incur throughout his life.

With interest
The court, while directing the hospital to pay Rs.1 crore as compensation, said the amount should be paid with six per cent interest from 1999, when the National Commission gave the award.
According to Mr. Dhanaka, he went to the hospital in September 1990 for a check-up as he was suffering from on and off fever for one year.
On examination, it was noticed that he had a large mass in his left hemithorax (chest cavity).
A surgery was performed and the tumour was removed. But, post-surgery he became a paraplegic — paralysis of the lower limbs of the body. Then he moved the Commission which awarded only Rs. 15.5 lakh.
The complainant’s main charge was that the tumour being a neurogenic one, the surgery should have been handled by a neurosurgeon.
The surgery completely disturbed the nervous system, making him paraplegic.

Hospital’s contention
The hospital contended that the Commission had erroneously held that it was negligent in not performing its statutory duties to interact and exchange opinion with sister-institutes in India and abroad and also failed to seek the assistance of a neurosurgeon.

“Irrelevant factors”
The complainant’s claim was not supported by any material and the Commission had considered irrelevant factors in awarding the compensation. It sought quashing of the Commission’s order.

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