Thursday, October 24, 2013

Medical Negligence -SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday awarded a whopping Rs 5.96 crore as compensation to be paid by Kolkata- based AMRI Hospital and three doctors to a US-based Indian-origin doctor for medical negligence which led to the death of his wife in 1998. 

A bench of justices SJ Mukhopadhaya and V Gopala Gowda asked the hospital and the three doctors to pay the amount within eight weeks to Kunal Saha, an Ohio-based AIDS researcher. 

The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in 2011 had awarded Rs 1.73 crore to the doctor whose wife Anuradha Saha died in 1998 following faulty treatment administered at the hospital. 

Raising the amount of compensation, the apex court also asked the hospital to pay an interest at the rate of six per cent to Saha. 

The court said out of the total compensation amount, Dr Balram Prasad and Dr Sukumar Mukherjee will pay Rs 10 lakh each and Dr Baidyanath Halder will have to pay Rs 5 lakh to Saha within eight weeks. 

The rest of the amount, along with the interest, will be paid by the hospital, the apex court said, adding that a compliance report be filed before it after payment of the compensation amount. 

NCDRC had fixed the compensation on a direction by the apex court, which had referred Saha's appeal to it while holding the three doctors and the hospital culpable to civil liability for medical negligence which had led to the death of Anuradha. 

Anuradha, herself a child psychologist, had come to her home town Kolkata in March 1998 on a summer vacation. She complained of skin rashes on April 25 and consulted Dr Sukumar Mukherjee, who, without prescribing any medicine, simply asked her to take rest. 

As rashes reappeared more aggressively on May 7, 1998, Dr Mukherjee prescribed Depomedrol injection 80 mg twice daily, a step which was later faulted by experts at the apex court. 

After administration of the injection, Anuradha's condition deteriorated rapidly following which she had to be admitted at AMRI on May 11 under Dr Mukherjee's supervision. 

Saha, in his plea before NCDRC, had demanded a record Rs 77 crore compensation. 

While awarding Rs 1,72,87,500 compensation to Saha for his wife's death, NCDRC had held the US doctor responsible for contributing to the negligence committed by the three Kolkata doctors and the hospital and had ordered 10 per cent deduction in the amount of compensation making it Rs 1.55 crore. 

Another doctor involved in Anuradha's treatment, Abani Roy Chowdhury had passed away during the pendency of the case. 

As Anuradha's condition failed to improve, she was flown to Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai, where she was found to be suffering from a rare and deadly skin disease--Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). She died there on May 28, 1998. 

Saha had then filed a criminal as well as civil case against the doctors and both the hospitals on the ground that they were grossly negligent in her treatment leading to her death. 

In 2009, though the apex court absolved the doctors and the hospitals of criminal liability for medical negligence, it had held them culpable of civil liabilities and referred Saha's plea for compensation under provisions of the Consumer Protection Act to NCDRC, which, had in 2006 dismissed, the case. 

After the NCDRC judgment, Saha had again moved the apex court and the three doctors had also filed an appeal before it. 

NCDRC, in its judgment, had stipulated that AMRI and Dr Mukherjee would pay Rs 40.4 lakh each to Saha, while two other doctors, Halder and Prasad, would pay Rs 26.93 lakh each to him. 

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